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Novel Writers: Diane Cook, The New Wilderness

A Poetic City

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The Novel Writers series invites debut novelists to read from and talk about their work in an informal setting. 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.

In this event, Diane Cook discusses her debut novel The New Wilderness (shortlisted for the Booker Prize 2020) with Zoe Steadman-Milne (Bristol Festival of Ideas).

The New Wilderness is 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.

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