The Recovering

Intoxication and its Aftermath

Leslie Jamison

Published: 3 January 2019
Paperback, B Format
129x198mm, 272 pages
ISBN: 9781783781539

Other Editions


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Published: 3 May 2018
Hardback, Royal HB
156x234mm, 544 pages
ISBN: 9781783781522

Ebook Available

About the author

Image of Leslie Jamison

Leslie Jamison grew up in Los Angeles. Educated at Harvard College and the Iowa Writers' Workshop, she has also worked as an innkeeper in California, a schoolteacher in Nicaragua, and an office temp in Manhattan. She is the NewYork Times bestselling author of The Recovering and The Empathy Exams, as well as a novel, The Gin Closet. Her work has appeared in Harper's, The Atlantic,Oxford American, Virginia Quarterly Review, and the New York Times Magazine, where she is a contributing writer. She directs the graduate nonfiction program at Columbia University. More about the author


‘[The Recovering is] gripping to the end, because of [Jamison's] honesty and intelligence'’ Jake Kerridge



The Recovering is beautifully written, beautifully honest, formidably intelligent, emotionally powerful, and absolutely fascinating. Leslie Jamison captured my attention in the very first sentence and didn't let it go for a second until - with reluctance - I finished the very last. Addiction literature has just welcomed a new classic’ Anne Fadiman

The Recovering is graced by self-awareness and luminous writing.... Jamison's brilliance is most evident when she puts her finger on the complexity of human emotion’ Freida Klotz

Engaging as it is thoughtful...Ms Jamison proves both an insightful guide to decades of literature by and about addicts, and a self-aware chronicler of her own struggle with alcoholism... a movingly humble book

Painstakingly and honestly delineated, with flashes of humour and wry wit that leaven the sense of waste.... a brave, honest and surprisingly generous account of intoxication and its consequences’ John Burnside

‘I've been reading a lot of Leslie Jamison, she's an incredible writerFlorence Welch

‘Jamison breaks the addiction-lit mould’

‘Leslie Jamison has done a magnificent job of rescuing an age-old social problem from the clichés that surround it, and making us see it anew for the cruel assault on the human spirit that it really is’ Vivian Gornick

‘Leslie Jamison has written an honest and important book, vivid writing and required reading’ Stephen King

‘Leslie Jamison writes about the highs of dependency and also about the highs of recovery. Her prose is so sharp and evocative that the reader feels the thrilling trickle of alcohol down the back of the throat, and breathes the struggle for health and freedom. Jamison demonstrates great wit, penetrating intellect, and an enormous heart. This strangely exhilarating book is about recovery, but it is more resonantly a book about desire, consciousness, kindness, self-control, and love-and hence a Tolstoyan study of the human condition’ Andrew Solomon

‘Leslie Jamison's The Recovering is a definitive investigation of both the romance of intoxication and the possibilities for recovery. Graceful, forensic, The Recovering sets a new bar in addiction studies. It is a courageous and brilliant example of what nonfiction writing can do’ Chris Kraus

‘She is a particularly talented exponent of a kind of essayistic contemporary non-fiction I love: scholarly but never academic; lyrical but exact; confessional but analytical; discursive but with enough narrative momentum to keep you reading’ Summer Books round up selected by Joe Moran

‘The arc of [Jamison's] redemption has arguably made her a better writer: more at ease with her own complicatedness, looking to the future, beyond the bottom of a glass'’ Sinéad Gleeson

‘Touched with flashes of beauty and humour’ Nilanjana Roy

‘You don't need to be an addict to be enthralled by The Recovering. This book is for anyone interested in a dazzlingly brilliant, uncommonly compassionate, and often hilarious study of human nature. Leslie Jamison's work will definitely make you feel smarter-I'd like to borrow her brain to pick a fight with a couple of people-but The Recovering also reads like a gripping mystery as written by a subversive and deeply passionate philosopher. Her writing is unexpected, profound, and perverse-in short, a thrill to read. Best of all, for a writer so gifted at locating the excruciating commonalities of isolation, Jamison manages this greatest feat of magic: when I read her words, I come away feeling less alone’ Mary-Louise Parker

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