Tom Webber, commissioning editor at Icon Books, has bought UK & Commonwealth rights from Juliet Pickering at Blake Friedmann to MAN UP: Surviving Modern Masculinity by Jack Urwin. Audible have bought unabridged audio rights, from Juliet Pickering, to publish simultaneously in June 2016.
Urwin’s article in Vice last year – A Stiff Upper Lip is Killing British Men – went viral on publication and was praised by Irvine Welsh as ‘fabulous’, and by feminist journalist and author Laurie Penny as 'the brilliant, personal, not-actually-sexist writing by millennials about masculinity and politics that the world has been waiting for'.
MAN UP explores why masculinity – for all of its positive achievements – is currently in crisis, and what it means to be a man now. There’s no doubt about that crisis, either: suicide is currently the main cause of death among men between the ages of 18-49 in the UK, according to the Office for National Statistics.
As commentators like Matt Haig have repeatedly said, men are now facing up to the challenges that their gender presents, and as more books are published about women, by women, men are struggling to be part of a similar conversation about the future of their gender.
Inspired in part by his own father’s premature death when Jack was nine, and his subsequent struggles with depression in his teens and early twenties - to which his inability to communicate emotionally was a major contributing factor - MAN UP expands on Urwin’s personal experiences, and delves further into the historical causes of toxic male behaviour in both biological and sociological contexts.
In the book, Jack traces crises of masculinity from our grandfathers’ inability to verbalise the horrors of war and the decline of the working class in the latter part of the 20th century, to the mob mentality displayed on the football terraces, and the disturbing rise of mental health problems among men today. He also looks at the wider impact wrought by reinforcement of such rigid definitions of masculinity, harming not only heterosexual men but also the women and LGBT people around them.
Smart, funny and friendly, MAN UP is the start of an essential conversation for men, exploring why we have perpetuated various myths of masculinity – and how we can challenge it, and change it.
‘This won’t be the only voice discussing men and masculinity in 2016 - there seem to be few more contemporary topics - but Jack’s is definitely unique’’ Webber says. ‘His writing is extremely resonant and clear, and as well as coming from his own traumatic experiences as a child and teenager, it shows a wisdom that belies his age. We think he’s going to be a star and that this book will only be the beginning of his rise to fame’
Jack Urwin says ‘This is a book from the heart and I’m really looking forward to adding what I can to the debate about masculinity. Icon have a great reputation for books about big ideas, and having already seen how receptive Tom and his colleagues are, I’m more than confident they’ll be the perfect publisher.’