Not one woman? Really?

Publishing, Writing


So Publisher’s Weekly has announced their Top Titles of 2009 and I can’t help but notice that there isn’t one female author on the list. Not one.

In their press release, they say, “We wanted to pick the best 10 and we came ready to mix it up, and although we were surprised that, when the dust settled, it wasn’t the most politically correct list – there are no women authors, for example – the balance of our top 100 reflects a remarkable diversity.”

Now, I admit I haven’t read most of these, but with names like Richard Holmes, Blake Bailey, Neil Sheehan, Geoff Dyer, David Grann, Matthew B. Crawford and David Small, I’m having trouble seeing the diversity here. I’m sure these are all amazing books – they’ve been picked from tens of thousands published this year – but diverse? There’s one African American and one Pakistani. The others are all, essentially, white American or European men.

Now I’m certainly not saying that a lesser book by anyone, regardless of gender or national origin, should be in a top ten if it doesn’t belong, but I have a lot of trouble swallowing the idea that Euro-centric men are the most exceptional writers.

I’d be interested to see a gender/nationality breakdown of the PW starred reviews for the year. I would lay odds that a large percentage were written by women, yet 0% of the top ten are by female authors.

PW’s Top 100 comes out on November 2.

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  • Reply
    October 30, 2009 at 3:41 pm

    It one of <i>those</i> situations…you don’t know if there was severe bias or if it just happened that way.

    It’s important to look at the context. Were there books by female authors in the past top ten novels? If not, then there is a problem.

    There is the other end of the scale: they could put crummy literature in top ten simply because of a person’s gender or race which would ruin the credibility of it.

    (But I will admit my gut doesn’t like this one bit.)

  • Reply
    American Idiot
    October 30, 2009 at 9:08 pm

    That is interesting. I am not sure what to think of that, but hopefully there isn’t a bias. I know full well women authors write some of the best books from my experience.

    This is Kevin btw. 🙂 lol

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