The New Wilderness
‘THE ENVIRONMENTAL NOVEL OF OUR TIMES.’ Lemn Sissay, Booker Prize judge
From an acclaimed Guardian First Book Award finalist comes a debut novel ‘brutal and beautiful in equal measure’ (Emily St. John Mandel)
Longlisted for the Aspen Words Literary Prize 2020
Bea’s five-year-old daughter, Agnes, is slowly wasting away. The smog and pollution of the overdeveloped, overpopulated metropolis they call home is ravaging her lungs. Bea knows she cannot stay in the City, but there is only one alternative: The Wilderness State. Mankind has never been allowed to venture into this vast expanse of untamed land. Until now.
Bea and Agnes join eighteen other volunteers who agree to take part in a radical experiment. They must slowly learn how to live in the unpredictable, often dangerous Wilderness, leaving no trace on their surroundings in their quest to survive. But as Agnes embraces this new existence, Bea realises that saving her daughter’s life might mean losing her in ways she hadn’t foreseen.
At once a blazing lament of our contempt for nature and a deeply humane portrayal of motherhood, The New Wilderness is an extraordinary, urgent novel from a celebrated new literary voice.
'The New Wilderness is a virtuosic debut, brutal and beautiful in equal measure.' * Emily St. John Mandel, author of Station Eleven and The Glass Hotel * 'A wry, speculative debut novel... Cook's unsettling, darkly humorous tale explores maternal love and man's disdain for nature with impressive results.' * Publishers Weekly, starred review * 'The New Wilderness left me as stunned as a deer in headlights. Gut-wrenching and heart-wrecking, this is a book that demands to be read, and urgently. With beauty and compassion, Diane Cook writes about the precariousness of life on this planet, about the things that make us human - foremost the love between mothers and daughters, at once complex and elemental. Cook observes humanity as a zoologist might - seeing us exactly as the strange animals we really are.' * Rachel Khong, author of Goodbye, Vitamin * 'An absolutely riveting and propulsive novel. Terrifying, and as real as can be. Epic in scale and story; granular and recognisable in people and place. The New Wilderness is surely an instant classic in our stories of survival, sovereignty and adaptation. Cook's writing is so sure-footed, prescient and trustworthy, it's all the reader can do to follow her. For fans of Ling Ma's Severance and Hernan Diaz's In the Distance, and many, many readers in between.' * Caoilinn Hughes, author of The Wild Laughter * 'Cook's is a fresh and vivid voice; it's unsurprising the likes of Miranda July and Roxane Gay are fans.' * Observer * 'Diane Cook upends old tropes of autonomy, survival, and civilization to reveal startling new life teeming beneath, giving a glimpse into the ways the world we think we know could come unstuck and come to life in the care of the women and girls of the future. This is not just a thrilling, curious, vibrant book - but an essential one, a compass to guide us into the future.' * Alexandra Kleeman, author of You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine * 'The New Wilderness strips us of our veneer of civilisation and exposes us for what we are: driven to survive, capable of shocking cruelty and profound, fierce love. This story of what a mother does to save her daughter is unflinching, horrifying, forgiving, deeply moving, and filled with truth that stayed with this mother long after the final page.' * Helen Sedgwick, author of The Comet Seekers * 'The emotional core of the story is the relationship between Bea and Agnes, whose perspectives drive the narrative. It's a damning piece of horror cli-fi, but it's also a gripping and profound examination of love and sacrifice.' * Buzzfeed * 'The push-pull of ambivalent but powerful love between mother and daughter centers the novel... Cook also raises uncomfortable questions: How far will a person go to survive, and what sacrifices will she or won't she make for those she loves? This ecological horror story (particularly horrifying now) explores painful regions of the human heart.' * Kirkus (starred review) * 'The novel tackles the deepest of human emotions-as well as big ideas about the planet-in satisfying ways. Also, it's a page-turner!' * LitHub * 'As close to experiencing a Picasso as literature can get.' * Tea Obreht, author of The Tiger's Wife (on Man V. Nature) * 'An imaginative, dystopian look at what our world could become... I was gripped by how vivid the story was, how expertly Diane Cook got into the dynamics of a group of strangers surviving in the wild, and their relationship with those in power.' * Hey Alma - Favourite Books for Summer * 'Cook is an accomplished writer with a darkly comic touch.' * Irish Times *
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