Man v Nature by Diane Cook review – a vivid collection of dystopian stories

These menace-laden tales are excitingly quirky and sometimes horrifying

In the title story of Cook’s exhilarating collection of short stories, three old friends marooned on a fishing trip hypothesise why they haven’t yet been rescued; perhaps a coup d’état in Canada, leading to a seaway battle so fierce that everyone is temporarily distracted. The idea would make a great show, they decide – one called Man v Nature. Cook’s set-ups are always quirky, often edged with menace and danger; in the horrifying Somebody’s Baby, a mysterious man abducts a woman’s newborn and then returns, years later, when she has a second child, the truly awful moment coming when she realises that her case is not an anomaly. The mode and register throughout is of understated dystopia, such as in the opening story, where widows and widowers are sent to shelters to await their turn to be “chosen” again. Cook’s is a fresh and vivid voice; it’s unsurprising that the likes of Miranda July and Roxane Gay are fans.

Man v Nature is published by Oneworld (£8.99). Click here to order a copy for £6.99


Alex Clark

The GuardianTramp

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