Alumna Diane Cook ’12 Longlisted for 2020 Man Booker Prize

BY Audrey Deng, July 30, 2020

This week, it was announced that the novel The New Wilderness by alumna Diane Cook ’12 made the longlist for the 2020 Man Booker Prize.

This is Cook’s first novel. In 2014, she published a short story collection, Man v Nature, which was shortlisted for the Guardian First Book Award and the L.A. Times Book Prize.

In The New Wilderness, a mother and her sickly daughter leave the polluted and overcrowded City to join the Wilderness State, in hopes of saving the daughter’s ravaged lungs. Once they arrive in the Wilderness with eighteen other volunteers, Bea, the mother, realizes that saving her daughter's life might mean losing her in ways she had not expected.

The Booker judges described The New Wilderness as “wonderfully imagined and written… A tense future-shock novel that’s also a tender exploration of a mother-daughter relationship under extreme pressure.”


The New Wilderness has received effusive praise since its publication; Publishers Weekly called it “unsettling, darkly humorous”; LitHub wrote that “[The New Wilderness] tackles the deepest of human emotions—as well as big ideas about the planet—in satisfying ways. Also, it’s a page-turner!”

Alumna Alexandra Kleeman ’12 also praised the book, saying, “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.”

The thirteen books on the longlist were chosen from 162 novels published in the UK or Ireland between October 2019 and September 2020. The shortlist for the Man Booker will be announced on September 15, 2020, on the Man Booker website.

Cook’s stories have appeared in Harper’s Magazine, Tin House, Granta, The Best American Short Stories, and The O. Henry Prize Stories. She received a 2016 fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts and is a former producer for the radio show This American Life. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.

The New Wilderness is available for pre-order here.