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Literary women, literary prizes. Not often to be found in the same room.

(53 Posts)
Bidisha Sun 05-Jun-11 02:10:35

Following V S Naipaul's well thought through and generous comments about all women writers, the release of several major prizes' shortlists and longlists for 2011 and the upcoming 16th annual Orange Prize for Fiction, I have written an article about women writers and the prize circuit. A shortened version of the piece was used in the paper Guardian on Friday 3rd June but due to a technical glitch was not put online. It is possible to read the original here.

Bidisha Sun 05-Jun-11 02:12:53

Hmmm. Let me just try that link again with some ws attached.

PrinceHumperdink Sun 05-Jun-11 08:22:42

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StewieGriffinsMom Sun 05-Jun-11 09:05:17

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StewieGriffinsMom Sun 05-Jun-11 09:12:43

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sunshineandbooks Sun 05-Jun-11 09:47:06

Loving the 'fond memories of vagina' take.

Thanks for the link Bidisha. I enjoyed reading that.

I started this post about 15 mins and keep writing stuff and deleting it because I don't understand what it is I'm actually trying to say. confused I'll come back later when I've come up with something more coherent.

dittany Sun 05-Jun-11 09:48:10

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InmaculadaConcepcion Sun 05-Jun-11 09:56:24

Thanks for the link, Bidisha.

Good blog - I hadn't realised just how outrageously misogyny/sexism panned out in the literary world. That was both extremely enlightening and profoundly depressing (as so much of feminist analysis is....)

DaisyHayes Sun 05-Jun-11 10:34:39

Ooooh! Hello Bidisha!


belledechocchipcookie Sun 05-Jun-11 11:12:31

Great blog post.
I remember reading (on a different blog) that it was easier for a man to get their manuscript published then a woman so the discrimination begins even before the book hits the shops. I remember the arse who previously said that anyone who wrote for children must have a serious brain injury, this was also a man. It does appear that they are more likely to come out with crap then a women.

MisterDarsey Sun 05-Jun-11 12:51:02

As someone who mostly reads non-fiction I am especially struck by the lack of female candidates for the Samuel Johnson prize.

With fiction, you could make a plausible argument that women writers just don't cover subjects that appeal to male readers; however this argument clearly fails in the case of things like history, biography & popular science.

So maybe we need a non-fiction version of the Orange Prize?

claig Sun 05-Jun-11 12:56:58

'Every study into reading habits has show that women will faithfully buy, read and support books by both sexes while men 'tend to' (this is the phrase which is always used when people report this little hate-fact) read books only by men. Swallow that for a second, ladies-in-denial: they have such incredible disdain and loathing for us that they will not even touch a book by us.'

The greatest selling author of all time is Agatha Christie. Isn't it as MisterDarcey says about whether the subject matter appeals to men? Is there a difference between the sexes and their interests?

dittany Sun 05-Jun-11 13:01:43

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Riveninside Sun 05-Jun-11 13:28:44

In fantasy and science fuction many women writers go for asexual names or just initials.
Dh is a writer and has co authored with a female writer.

hogsback Sun 05-Jun-11 13:56:13

claig - I couldn't find a single living English-language 'literary' writer on that list you posted. This about sums up the relevance of literary fiction. It's a tiny boys' club for a few middle-aged men writing about middle-aged man shit, and a handful of journalists bigging them up.

Outside of the pages of a a couple of broadsheet papers and the TLS, no-one gives a shit about them or their silly prizes. And that's as it should be.

The public are too busy reading Martina Cole, Karin Slaughter, Danielle Steele, Robin Hobb, Anne Rice and JK Rowling to care.

claig Sun 05-Jun-11 14:19:09

Agree, most people don't read any of it. How many people have ever read Naipaul. However much they big him up and he bigs himself up, he is irrelevant. People still prefer Agatha Christie and watch Poirot and they always will.

Women read far more fiction than men, and that is why Danielle Steele and Barbara cartland appear on that list. The high and moghty would never give a prize to Barbara Cartland, but she outsold all of the media darlings.

Men don't read as much, but when they do, they most probably read non-fiction. They also read women historians and thinkers. Barbara Tuchman won the Pullitzer Prize twice for her history books on the First World War and China. Some of the most powerful men in the world, like Alan Greenspan, were acolytes of Ayn Rand and read all her works.

I think it all comes down to subject matter and there is a difference in the sexes and their interests. They aren't the same and it is not all the same what they choose to read.

claig Sun 05-Jun-11 14:26:59

I think their "prizes" are a marketing exercise to get the public to buy their products. If they didn't give it all airtime on radio, TV and newspapers, then all those products would disappear up the industry's fundament.

claig Sun 05-Jun-11 14:39:44

And unlike many progressives, I think the progressives who are in charge of these prizes often choose the winners for political purposes, just as they do Nobel Prize winners. The public ignore them and just carry on buying Agatha Christie.

Al Gore won a joint nobel prize for his work on climate change
"for their efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change, and to lay the foundations for the measures that are needed to counteract such change"

Donald Trump said Gore should be stripped of his prize, but Trump is not progressive, his views carry no weight.

StewieGriffinsMom Sun 05-Jun-11 14:40:53

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StewieGriffinsMom Sun 05-Jun-11 14:41:23

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celadon Sun 05-Jun-11 14:51:03

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celadon Sun 05-Jun-11 14:52:33

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claig Sun 05-Jun-11 14:56:02

smile just trying to inform, and show the links between all their "prizes". The Turner Prize is similar. Most of the public think the winners are crap, but the "intelligentsia" in the media tell us this stuff is where it is at.

celadon Sun 05-Jun-11 15:09:40

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hogsback Sun 05-Jun-11 15:09:40

claig - this is probably getting very OT, but do you believe the same of the Nobel prizes for Physics, Chemistry, Medicine, Economics and the Fields Medal? I'm interested in whether you only disapprove of award ceremonies that have rewarded people who's politics you don't like.

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