How to be Human
by Paula Cocozza

How to be Human by Paula Cocozza


You’ve seen a fox. Come face to face in an unexpected place or at an unexpected moment. And he has looked at you, as you have looked at him. As if he has something to tell him. But what if it didn’t stop there?

When Mary arrives home from work one day to find a magnificent fox on her lawn – his ears spiked in attention and every hair bristling with his power to surprise – it is only the beginning. He brings gifts (at least Mary imagines they are gifts) and gradually makes himself at home.

And as he listens to Mary, Mary listens back.

She begins to hear herself for the first time in years. Her bullish ex-boyfriend, still lurking on the fringes of her life, would be appalled. So would the neighbours with a new baby. They only like wildlife that fits with the décor. But inside Mary, a wildness is growing that will not be tamed.

Praise from the Desmond Elliott Prize

“In her garden of earthy delights, a young woman takes a walk on the wild side that will lead her back to herself. In this parallel wilderness, reality bites with insouciant wit. For Mary Green, Cocozza has created a persona as winning and as wily as her invited guest, a couple couched at peace and not at bay. Nature and nurture confide in epicurean harmony. She takes us under their skin, to explore and to interpret with divining skill, and to touch the heart. Anthropomorphism made eloquence, realism made magical.”

About the Author

Paula Cocozza is a feature writer at the Guardian and completed her MA in creative writing at the University of East Anglia, where she was the 2013/14 recipient of the David Higham Award. She lives in London.

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