Our Novel Writers series invites debut novelists to read from and talk about their work in an informal setting. Prior knowledge of the text is not essential. Topics of discussion include theme, structure, inspiration and the craft of writing. These sessions are a great way to discover new writing talent and great books.


This October, Diane Cook introduces her debut novel The New Wilderness (shortlisted for the Booker Prize 2020), at once a blazing lament of our contempt for nature and a deeply humane portrayal of motherhood.


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 18 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.


The New Wilderness is published by Oneworld. Buy a copy from our bookseller partner Waterstones.


The New Wilderness book jacket


Image of Diane Cook credit Jorge Just