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The New Wilderness


Diane Cook

‘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 DUBLIN Literary Award 2022

A Guardian Best Science Fiction Book of the Year

A ‘Best Book of the Year 2020’ according to BBC Culture * An Irish Times Best Debut Fiction of 2020

Bea’s daughter, Agnes, is slowly wasting away, her lungs ravaged by the smog and pollution of the overpopulated metropolis they call home.

The only alternative is to build a life in the vast expanse of untamed land known as The Wilderness State. No one has been allowed to venture here before. That is all about to change. But as Bea soon discovers, saving her daughter’s life might mean losing her in ways she hadn’t foreseen.

Passionate and exhilarating, The New Wilderness is the story of a mother’s fight to save her daughter in a world she can no longer call her own.


  • Publication date: June 3, 2021
  • ISBN: 9780861540013
  • RRP: £8.99
  • Pages: 416
  • Publication date: August 13, 2020
  • ISBN: 9781786078216
  • RRP: £16.99
  • Pages: 416
  • Publication date: July 30, 2020
  • ISBN: 9781786078223
  • RRP: £4.99
  • Pages: 416


'The New Wilderness is a many-layered dystopian fiction set in the not too distant future. It's the environmental novel of our times. We were impressed by the novel taking on the greatest story of our times – climate change – and yet it's a novel that focuses through relationships.' 

Lemn Sissay, Booker Prize judge

'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

‘Cook’s propulsive tale is moved along as much by the engrossingly complex mother-daughter relationship that develops as by the Community’s grim attempts to survive… The New Wilderness is a well-formed and powerful piece of writing.’

The Times, Siobhan Murphy

'Soulful, urgent... Cook is adept at matter-of-factly deploying unadorned detail to deadpanning, gut-plummeting effect... Supremely well-crafted... So much else is broached in these vivid, timely pages: tribalism, courage, consumption, storytelling itself – an art that Cook spirits back to its spark-enlivened, campfire origins. What lingers, though, beyond the awesome power of Bea and Agnes as heroines, is pure wonderment at all in this world of ours that is not human.'


'Wonderfully imagined and written, this is a tense future-shock novel that's also a tender exploration of a mother-daughter relationship under extreme pressure... An urgent novel reflective of what is  happening in society right now.'

Booker Prize judges

'The New Wilderness is Diane Cook's debut novel that brings to life a wildly imaginative and terrifying dystopian story of a mother's battle to save her daughter from a world ravaged by climate change. Touching on humanity and our contempt for nature, this is a timely and compelling novel.'


'The unease between mother and daughter as they navigate disparate understandings of self, belonging, society and each other is the beating heart of the novel... Cook takes command of a fast-paced, thrilling story to ask stomach-turning questions in a moment when it would benefit every soul to have their stomach turned by the prospect of the future she envisions.'  

Téa Obreht, Observer

'This Booker-longlisted novel's driving questions – who will live and who will die? And which kind of leadership will triumph along the way? – remind us, in a compelling fashion, why we read at all: to learn how better to survive.'

New Statesman

'A visceral, elemental performance... Dense with believable detail.'

The Sunday Times

'Riveting... Bleakly compelling, and leavened by wry, sparkling humour that Cook combines seamlessly with existential dread.'

Daily Telegraph

'This gut-wrenching story of survival, danger, power, control and, most importantly, love is one you won’t want to put down.'


'This Booker-longlisted novel’s driving questions – who will live and who will die? And which kinds of leadership will triumph along the way? – remind us, in a compelling fashion, why we read at all: to learn how better to survive.'

New Statesman

Diane Cook

Diane Cook is a novelist and short story writer. Her collection, Man v. Nature (Oneworld, 2015), was shortlisted for the Guardian First Book Award and the L.A. Times Book Prize. Her stories have appeared in Harper’s, Tin House and Granta, and been anthologised in Best American Short Stories. Her debut novel The New Wilderness was shortlisted for the 2020 Booker Prize. She lives in Brooklyn.

Author page

More books by Diane Cook

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