Ashleigh Young

With honest, insightful prose, Ashleigh Young offers intimate and playful glimpses of coming of age in small-town New Zealand.

Born and raised in Te Kūiti, New Zealand, Ashleigh Young is the author of the critically acclaimed book of poetry Magnificent Moon (2012) as well as the essay collection Can You Tolerate This? (2016). A series of twenty-one personal essays, Can You Tolerate This? tells the story of a girl growing up in a small New Zealand town and making her way as an adult into the wider world. But Young’s meditations on her own autobiography always lead outward, toward the lives and experiences of others. Her work reveals unlikely connections and resonances, discovering echoes between the lives of a little girl in Te Kūiti, a stone-collecting postman in rural southwestern France, and an American boy born with a second skeleton. Calling to mind both Joan Didion and Anton Chekov, Young is relentless in her examination of herself and endlessly curious and compassionate in her consideration of the world. Can You Tolerate This? offers a glimpse into this extraordinarily promising writer’s quest to seek in the small accidents of her individual life the outlines of a much larger reality. An editor at Victoria University Press, Young is also a creative writing tutor at the International Institute of Modern Letters, Victoria University of Wellington

I’ve always thought of myself as a small writer. Someone who could only ever write in the margins. But this marvelous and truly mind-boggling honor means that suddenly, a dreamlike opportunity has opened up in front of me—to bring writing into the heart of my life, and to have faith that it’s the right thing. ASHLEIGH YOUNG