Diane Cook is the author of the novel, The New Wilderness, and the story collection, Man V. Nature, which was a finalist for the Guardian First Book Award, the Believer Book Award, and the Los Angeles Times Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction. Her writing has appeared in Harper’s, Tin House, Granta, and other publications, and her stories have been included in the anthologies Best American Short Stories and The O. Henry Prize Stories. She is a former producer for the radio program This American Life, and was the recipient of a 2016 fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. She lives in Brooklyn, New York, with her husband, daughter and son.
After studying and writing fiction in college, she pivoted to radio, attending the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies in Portland, Maine as a member of their first Radio cohort in 2000. She began her radio career as an intern, then producer at This American Life. After years as a nonfiction writer and producer, she felt hemmed in by all that truth-telling, and decided to return to fiction. She attended Columbia University for her MFA and published her first book, Man V. Nature, a few years later. She has taught writing and literature at Columbia University and at the University of Michigan’s New England Literature Program, in which students and teachers live and study together in a rustic camp, foregoing all technology and traditional classroom methods. It’s awesome. Students from any college or university are welcome to apply.
She has spent a lot of time in remote places, even though her belongings and life were always rooted in cities. The push-pull of civilization and wilderness has always been at the heart of her work. She spent a lot of time in the high desert of Oregon while writing The New Wilderness, nervously trekking on pathless BLM land, getting lost and almost stuck in springtime snowy mountain roads, sharing a parcel of land with a resident mountain lion, startling large herds of elk outside her door on moonless nights. And while she prefers to live remotely and quietly, she’s easily spooked by being alone in wild places, though she keeps returning to them. Whatever balm such places offer her has always been greater than the amorphous fear they also invite.