A visit from Neanderthals: The Red Children, by Maggie Gee, reviewed

This is the kind of novel that will be discussed jubilantly in the book clubs of places like Lib Dem north Oxford. It is a social polemic disguised as fiction. Maggie Gee’s concerns are topical: migration, global warming, ‘the virus’, colour prejudice and first nations. The Red Children will be selective in its appeal. Strange red people with large heads suddenly appear in Ramsgate, and stand about naked on the seafront The plot is a surreal fantasy set on ‘the edge of England’, in Ramsgate, where Gee lives. Strange red people with large heads turn up suddenly and stand about naked on the seafront looking out to the Channel or

How Neanderthal are you?

My brother recently decided to get a DNA test. He discovered that our family were all descended from a mix of the usual British suspects — a bit of Viking, Anglo-Saxon and Celt — and were predisposed to standard diseases and health risks. But there was one surprise. My siblings and I had double the normal amount of Neanderthal in our genes. Reactions were mixed. My girlfriend declared she had suspected something of the sort for some time. My mother announced that it must come from my father’s side of the family. And it took us a while to digest. It’s now well established that all humans have a small