How to Be Human

How to Be Human

A Novel

Book - 2017
Average Rating:
Rate this:

From Guardian writer Paula Cocozza, a debut novel of the breakdown of a marriage, suburbian claustrophobia, and a woman's unseemly passion for a fox

One summer's night, Mary comes home from a midnight ramble to find a baby lying on her back door step. Has Mary stolen the baby from next door? Has the baby's mother, Mary's neighbor, left her there in her acute state of post-natal depression? Or was the baby brought to Mary as a gift by the fox who is increasingly coming to dominate her life?

So opens How to Be Human, a novel set in a London suburb beset by urban foxes. On leave from work, unsettled by the proximity of her ex, and struggling with her hostile neighbors, Mary has become increasingly captivated by a magnificent fox who is always in her garden. First she sees him wink at her, then he brings her presents, and finally she invites him into her house. As the boundaries between the domestic and the wild blur, and the neighbors set out to exterminate the fox, it is unclear if Mary will save the fox, or the fox save Mary.

In this masterful debut, Paula Cocozza weaves together a penetrating portrait of marital breakdown, a social novel of wit and nuance, and an obsessive love story that crosses new boundaries.

Publisher: New York : Metropolitan Books, 2017
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9781250129253
Branch Call Number: COCO
Characteristics: 288 pages


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
May 07, 2018

I enjoyed this novel, set on the edge between the urban and the wild. The protagonist, through a real or imagined relationship with a fox, frees herself from a controlling relationship with her boyfriend.

Oct 08, 2017

I believe this is the first book of the author Paula Cocozza. "How to be Human" truly begins with such promise. The author successfully develops an interesting protagonist whom the reader is rooting for. The writing style is rich. The reader can really sink their teeth into the story. I really cared where the story was headed. However, at some point Mary, the protagonist, stops being interesting and begins to become irrationally obsessed with her relationship with a fox. Of course, many people become very close to a pet - even a wild animal. But Mary's single minded interest in bringing this fox into her life to the exclusion of any normal human contact or activity was unnerving and did not ring true. I lost interest in Mary's fate as the book continued on its absurd trajectory. Hope Ms. Cocozza's next novel will bear her wonderful writing style and find a more relevant story line.

Jul 10, 2017

The Basis of the book is good with nice descriptions. I found it was dry and confusing at points when random characters would show up out of nowhere and there was no real conflict for the main character. I was slightly let down from the ending.

Age Suitability

Add Age Suitability

There are no age suitabilities for this title yet.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number


Subject Headings


Find it at SCL

To Top