Squid Game meets The Left Hand of Darkness meets Under the Skin in this radical literary sensation from South Korea about an alien's hunt for food that transforms into an existential crisis about what it means to be human.

Written by Natalia

This South-Korean sci-fi novella is quite an adventure. The story follows an alien called Mumu, who after crash-landing on Earth many years ago tries to survive by dating and feeding on humans after intimate and sexual encounters. In the meantime, mission to survive on Earth turns into an existential crisis about what it means to be human.

Mumu can transform and mold themself into any human form to cater to whichever person they try to match with on a dating app. As the reader, we follow Mumu on each of their hookups and how they, gruesomely, kill their date after having sex with them. Even though they are alien, their dating adventures, besides the killing, feel human, and it becomes clear how strange being human and (online) dating is; from the dating apps to meeting someone they’ve never met before, Mumu experiences them all.

One of my favorite passages is when Mumu explains how, in the early days of their time on Earth, they could not figure out the differences in the gender binary: who was male and who was female. To appear human, they simply figured out which appearances and behaviors were so-called masculine and feminine. And this exact observation makes it clear how Mumu is observing humans through a queer and trans lens: “This process is completed so naturally, and with such alacrity, that you aren’t even aware of automatically assigning gender to others.”

I found it fascinating that the alien is quite literally alienated; they are lonely and have no friends, and therefore they speak directly to the reader, asking us questions such as: “What’s all this nonsense, you say? Just think of it as the ramblings of a life-form pretending to be human.” It almost feels as if you are part of Mumu’s life on Earth, and I definitely felt some sort of sympathy for them, because being human is weird when you think about it long enough.

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