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Penguin: Adult Hardcover & Trade Paperback Summer 2019

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Can You Tolerate This?
By (author): Ashleigh Young
9780525534044 Paperback, Trade English General Trade LITERARY COLLECTIONS / Essays Jul 02, 2019
$22.00 CAD
Active 5.45 x 8.24 x 0.66 in 256 pages Riverhead Riverhead Books
From the prizewinning writer heralded as “Lena Dunham from Down Under” (Vogue), a wry and luminous collection of essays on youth and aging, ambition and loneliness, the limitations of the body and fierce, complicated attachments to home.

Youth and frailty, ambition and anxiety, the limitations of the body and the challenges of personal transformation: these are the undercurrents that animate acclaimed poet Ashleigh Young’s first collection of essays. In Can You Tolerate This?—the title comes from the question chiropractors ask to test a patient’s pain threshold—Young ushers us into her early years in the faraway yet familiar landscape of New Zealand: fantasizing about Paul McCartney, cheering on her older brother’s fledging music career, and yearning for a larger and more creative life. As Young’s perspective expands, a series of historical portraits—a boy who grew new bone wherever he was injured, an early French postman who built a stone fortress by hand, a generation of Japanese shut-ins—strike unexpected personal harmonies, as an unselfconscious childhood gives way to painful shyness in adolescence. As we watch Young fall in and out of love, undertake an intense yoga practice that masks an eating disorder, and gradually find herself through her writing, a highly particular psyche comes into view: curious, tender, and exacting in her observations of herself and the world around her.

Story Locale: New Zealand

WINNER OF SEVERAL INTERNATIONAL PRIZES: Can You Tolerate This? was the 2017 surprise winner of Yale University’s lucrative Windham-Campbell Prize in Nonfiction, joining recipients such as Teju Cole, Geoff Dyer, Tessa Hadley, and Hilton Als. The collection has also won the Ockham New Zealand Book Award, the equivalent of our National Book Award.

GLOWING HARDCOVER RECEPTION: A New York Times Book Review “Editor’s Choice,”Can You Tolerate This? has been greeted with raptorous praise everywhere from Vogue to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune (“[Young sees to the marrow of our humanity with a kind of MRI vision”) to Refinery 29 (“There’s no topic that Ashleigh Young can’t render brilliantly”), among many others.

ADDICTIVE, CAPTIVATING VOICE: Sometimes melancholy, often funny, always sharply observant, Can You Tolerate This? may remind readers of both Annie Dillard’s An American Childhood and Joan Didion’s Slouching Towards Bethlehem, as Young evokes the strangeness of her own childhood while finding unexpected connection with stories from the wider world.

A FRESH VOICE FOR ESSAY FANS: We are in a golden age of personal essays by women. Young’s work will appeal to readers who have flocked to the writing of Roxane Gay, Maggie Nelson, Meghan Daum, yet her work is entirely her own: subtle rather than declarative, she leads the reader through her world with the suggestive assurance of a fiction writer.

Ashleigh Young is the author of the award-winning essay collection Can You Tolerate This?, as well as a critically acclaimed book of poetry, Magnificent Moon. The recipient of a 2017 Windham- Campbell Prize in Nonfiction and an Ockham New Zealand Book Award, Young is an editor at Victoria University Press and teaches creative writing at the International Institute of Modern Letters.

Author Residence: Wellington, New Zealand

Marketing: Social media and online promotion / Twitter

Publicity: National print and online reviews and features

Author Website:

Author Social Media: Twitter: @Ashleigh_Young

Praise for Can You Tolerate This?:

“A lovely, profound debut that spins metaphors of its own creation and the segmented identity of the essayist, that self-regarding self.”—Alice Bolin, New York Times Book Review (Editors’ Choice)

“Wry, confessional, understated and often hilarious…Young, like the best essayists, writes with humorous self-regard about her own lived small moments, which reveal as much about us as they do about her…making even a foreign place feel like home.” - Washington Post

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