Wellington writer wins prestigious literary prize from Yale University

A Wellington writer is fielding emails from agents in the United States after winning a prestigious and secretive literary prize from Yale, worth a whopping $230,000.

It was a big shock for Ashleigh Young, given she had no idea she had even been nominated. 

She initially thought it was a hoax.

She is the first Kiwi writer to receive the Windham Campbell prize for her book, Can You Tolerate This?, a collection of personal essays which tell the story of a girl growing up in small town New Zealand. 

"I'm really overjoyed when someone says they've read something I've written and liked it, that's huge for me, so this is a complete dream," Ms Young said. 

She is one of eight winners of the Yale University prizes after making it through a rigorous judging process. 

It was her writing style and tone that appealed to the panel.

Windham Campbell prize director Michael Kelleher said there was something that reached out, "from those intimate, personal essays and spoke to all of these judges from all over the world". 

Fergus Barrowman of Victoria University Press said Ms Young writes with, "a wonderful lyric, openness and she's a very frank and brave writer". 

Ms Young has already had agents from the US wanting to promote her work, and local bookshops in Wellington have nearly sold out. 

She will fly to Yale in September to claim her prize, with buying a table and chair to write on at the top of her list. 

Ashleigh Young won the $230,000 prize for her book Can You Tolerate This, a collection of personal essays. Source: 1 NEWS