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 DUBLIN Literary Award 2022
A Guardian Best Science Fiction Book of the Year
Why read it?
3 authors picked The New Wilderness as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?
As a writer who’s interested in what comes next—after climate change, after fascism—I love how Diane Cook uses broad brush strokes to show us the future, without going into too much history or detail.
Instead of hyper-focusing on what the future holds for us, Cook directs our attention to one small, outlier community that’s doing weird things. This is a great technique: she paints a picture of a future world by painting a picture of a fringe group that’s trying desperately to be different from the main one.
A mother-daughter drama drives the plot forward, and we learn about the…
This book changed my mind.
Bea’s five-year-old daughter is frail and sickly, a victim of rampant air pollution. In an effort to save her, Bea and her family join an experimental program that requires them to live in the wild as nomadic hunters and gatherers. I must admit, I was initially drawn to the idea of trading the rat race for the wilderness. (No more alarm clocks! No more traffic jams!) But by the time I finished the book, that notion had lost its appeal. (No food pantries! No hospitals! Starvation! Death!) Exploring this intriguing but brutal scenario from the…
What if, in some apocalyptic future, alienated from our place on the planet, we enforced the opposition between a wild nature that flourishes in human absence and the city that towers in our presence, allowing no trace of human impact in the last preserved wilderness on the planet? This is the premise of Cook’s gripping novel, one of the most beautiful and provocative I have ever read. Centering the nature we carry around in our animal bodies, whether in the city or the forest, Cook’s cautionary tale makes a compelling case for a new environmentalism that doesn’t cast human beings…
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