In Can You Tolerate This? Ashleigh Young ushers us into her early years in the faraway yet familiar New Zealand. As her perspective expands, a series of historical portraits - a boy with a rare skeletal disease, 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.
Ashleigh Young is an award-winning essayist and poet. The recipient of a 2017 Windham- Campbell Prize in Nonfiction and an Ockham New Zealand Book Award, among other honours, she is an editor at Victoria University Press, and teaches creative writing at the International Institute of Modern Letters. She lives in Wellington, New Zealand.