The editors of Publishers Weekly have thrown down the gauntlet picking the top 10 books of the year and SURPRISE they are all by guys.
Here’s what Louisa Ermelino said about how they chose the books:
From more than 50,000 volumes, we valiantly set out to choose 100, and this year we’ve upped the ante with a top 10 list. A usually cooperative, agreeable bunch, we gave ourselves a reason to fight. We wanted the list to reflect what we thought were the top 10 books of the year with no other consideration. We expect you’ll be surprised: there’s a graphic novel, an adventure story, possibly the next Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, a delicious biography that could bring Cheever back into the literary firmament. We ignored gender and genre and who had the buzz. We gave fair chance to the “big” books of the year, but made them stand on their own two feet. It disturbed us when we were done that our list was all male.
I guess it didn’t disturb them enough. But it has caused quite a stir and again points out the issue of why these lists matter and why women just never seem to make the grade.
Cate Marvin who started a new organization WILLA (Women in Letters and Literary Arts) said to the Guardian:
It continues to surprise me that literary editors are so comfortable with their bias toward male writing, despite the great and obvious contributions that women authors make to our contemporary literary culture.
Co-Founder of Willa Erin Belieu said:
when PW’s editors tell us they’re not worried about ‘political correctness’, that’s code for ‘your concerns as a feminist aren’t legitimate'”. “They know they’re being blatantly sexist, but it looks like they feel good about that,” said Belieu. “I, on the other hand, have heard from a whole lot of people – writers and readers – who don’t feel good about it at all.
I personally believe that it is bullshit that the top 10 books of the year are all by men (and by the way 9 out of the 10 are by white men.) People who make these lists need to look at their own inherent and internalized biases. Wonder how those women who didn’t give a crap about political correctness yesterday are feeling this morning.
Fury after women writers excluded from ‘books of the year‘ (The Guardian)
Best Books of 2009 (Publishers Weekly)