The bestselling, award-winning author of The Radleys is back with what may be his best, funniest, and most devastating dark comedy yet. When an extraterrestrial visitor arrives on Earth, his first impressions of the human species are less than positive. Taking the form of Professor Andrew Martin, a prominent mathematician at Cambridge University, the visitor is eager to complete the gruesome task assigned him and hurry back home to the utopian world of his own planet, where everyone enjoys immortality and infinite knowledge.
He is disgusted by the way humans look, what they eat, their capacity for murder and war, and is equally baffled by the concepts of love and family. But as time goes on, he starts to realize there may be more to this weird species than he has been led to believe. Disguised as Martin, he drinks wine, reads poetry, develops an ear for rock music and a taste for peanut butter. Slowly, unexpectedly, he forges bonds with Martin’s family, and in picking up the pieces of the professor’s shattered personal life, he begins to see hope and beauty in the humans’ imperfections and begins to question the mission that brought him there.
Praised by the New York Times as a “novelist of great seriousness and talent,” author Matt Haig delivers an unlikely story about human nature and the joy found in the messiness of life on Earth. The Humans is a funny, compulsively readable tale that playfully and movingly explores the ultimate subject—ourselves.
Reading Group Guide
On our unnamed alien hero’s home world, Vonnadoria, mathematics has transformed his people, giving them the ability to create a utopian society where knowledge is limitless and immortality attainable. But when Cambridge professor Andrew Martin cracks the Riemann hypothesis, opening a door to the same technology that the alien’s planet possesses, the narrator is sent to Earth to erase all evidence of the solution and kill anyone who had seen the proof. He struggles to pass undetected long enough to gain access to Martin’s research. But as he takes up the role of Professor Martin in order to blend in with the humans, he begins to see a kind of hope and redemption in the humans’ imperfections, and he questions his marching orders. Mathematics or not, he becomes increasingly convinced that Martin’s family deserves to live, forcing him to confront the possibility of forgoing everything he has ever known and become a human.
Topics & Questions for Discussion
1. In the preface, our narrator explains his purpose and asks see more