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Diane Cook Books In Order

Publication Order of Standalone Novels

The New Wilderness (2020) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Publication Order of Collections

Man V. Nature (2014) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Diane Cook is a literary fiction author from Oakland, California best known for her debut collection of short fiction “Man v, Nature.” Her debut collection was the finalist for the Los Angeles Times Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction, the Believer Book Award, and the Guardian First Book Award. Cook’s work has been published in “Granta,” “Tin House” and “Harper’s” while her stories have been included in several short story collections that included “The O. Henry Prize Stories” and the “Best American Short Stories” among many others. Diane attended Columbia University for her MFA in creative writing where she was also a Teaching Fellow. Diane has also written nonfiction articles for “This American Life” and “The New York Times Magazine.” In 2016, Diane Cook was honored with a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship. Among her biggest influences are John McPhee for his excellent reporting and writing, Rebecca Curtis for her exciting writing, and Aimee Bender who inspired the direction of her writing.

Diane Cook published her collection of short stories “Man v. Nature” in 2014 to critical acclaim, before she followed it up with her second collection titled “Moving On” in 2015. She published her debut novel “The New Wilderness” in 2020 and the story had similar themes to her two previous works. In her novels, Cook writes of an unjust world in which there is a feeling of injustice as the characters fight against an invincible force. In her works, there is a prevailing world view of friends against friends, mothers against daughters, men against men, humans against nature, and against malevolent forces out to destroy or oppress them. The story of her novel “The New Wilderness” is a post-apocalyptic narrative that tells of a mother/daughter relationship and how they cope in a world destroyed by overpopulation and climate change. In her short story collection, she writes both post-apocalyptic, absurd and dystopian stories that won her the Guardian First Book Award and notable book of the year by the San Francisco Chronicle.

Cook’s “Man V. Nature” is a gorgeously written collection of stories that is an exploration of the boundary between the civilized and the wild. Her short stories are broadcast from a world that is terrifying just as much as it is tender. Every story grapples with questions of how to be human and survival in a universe that has been turned upside down. The short story collection and the settings of her stories feel like memories of places you are sure you have never been to. Diane pits her human characters against nature that has gone rogue. She carefully peels back the layers of civilization to reveal the ease with which the primal urges of humans can come out when their vulnerabilities are exposed. In utterly unique, transgressive and wry stories, she showcases her inventive and creative writing that is illuminated with heartbreak, surreal humor, and humankind’s struggle to not only survive but also thrive.

Diane Cook’s “The New Wilderness” opens to Bea in distress as Agnes her five-year-old daughter is slowly wasting away. They live in an overbuilt and overpopulated metropolis full of pollution and smog which is destroying her lungs. But there is nothing she can do as there is nowhere to relocate to given that it is a dangerous world out there. Out in the country, the only safe place is the “Wilderness State,” where people have been forbidden from living and as such, it is a country of pristine desert plains and thriving wildlife. Bea, her child, and eighteen others volunteer to become part of a study that seeks to determine if humans can peacefully live in nature without destroying it. They make a new community of nomadic hunter-gatherers living off the land, while adhering to the rules set by the Rangers who ensure they do not pollute the land or kill the wildlife. But as soon as they start learning how to live in the dangerous and often unpredictable land, they start fighting for control and power and their animal instincts begin to emerge. Bea had fled the city to go live in the Wilderness State to save her daughter but now realizes that she may just lose her anyway. Agnes has been getting closer and wilder to the land while Bea still clings to her urban ways of living. The bonds between daughter and mother are put to the test in heartbreaking ways as they grow further apart with each passing day. And just as they begin to think they may have found a new home in the Wilderness State, the government throws a wrench into the works.

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