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May 30, 2007

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R Ellis

They both have a point. If you read any list of "great" or recommended or prize-winning books, any table of contents of a respected magazine, you'll see that there are about 70% men, 30% women, in spite of the fact that more women read and write. I chalk this up partly to the phenomenon I noticed as a kid: that girls will read books about boys or girls, but boys will only read about boys. So it makes sense that publishing would be more "boy centered." I've seen the shelves of my male writer friends, and with a few exceptions, they carry almost exclusively other male writers.

Of course, there's the whole chick-lit thing, and more and more women writers are getting marketed into this genre, whether they like it or not. My bookstore doesn't even carry most chick-lit books, because no one takes them seriously and heck, you can get them at the grocery store, so why bother? Most female writers have had to stake out very specific territory in order not to get swept into this ghetto.

There is a definite tendency for publishing to divide itself into serious male writing and fluffy girl writing. That said, there's no law that says you have to go along with it, and for the most part women are lying in a bed of their own making.

J. R. Lennon

Nice post--on a quick read, I might have been liable to agree with Jong, until Jane Smiley came along to remind me of all the great writers Jong didn't bother cherry-picking.

Ultimately, Rhian's right--women ARE lying in a bed of their own making, and that's a good thing. Who wants the publishing industry to define what we ought to be writing, men and women both? You can always tell a novel that's by someone who wants to do what they want to do, rather than someone who wants to win a Pulitzer Prize: the former is awesome.

I would, of course, add Jane Smiley herself to that list, especially "Moo," one of my favorite comic novels, and one that utterly defies categorization.

Dan Wickett

Is it true that more women are writing too? I know statistics show that more books are being purchased by women (isn't that the stat? Or is it that a greater percentage of women than men respond to a question that they read? I only ask as I know my mom buys all the books in that household, but my dad reads them all too).

And why does a single Canadien get a longer leash than other female writers?

And somebody please let those two women (who I'm sure will see Jeff's post here) that Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie not only should be being read, but has certainly received both positive reviews and awards (or heavy nominations) for her two novels to date.

genevieve

Because she's not afraid of ANYTHING???(Pretty insulting suggestion, actually. Like she needs anyone's permission to write.)

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