My body, my alien self

The Humans

Matt Haig, a successful British author of children's and young-adult books, offers an engaging look at the foibles of humanity in his first novel for grown-ups, The Humans (Simon & Schuster, $25). Professor Andrew Martin, a mathematician, is the narrator—except it's not really Martin; rather, the storyteller here is an alien who has taken over Martin's body to study the supposedly mythological creatures known as humans. Proving once again that it's often necessary to take an outsider's view into consideration to fully understand something familiar, The Humans is a treatise addressed to the alien's race, describing the messy, repulsive, delightful and humane nature that makes us human. The alien, who actually prefers a dog to people—a perfectly sensible decision to many humans—discovers one of the greatest dangers of anthropology: the temptation to go “native.”