Thursday News: Women writing, reading, and publishing
Women’s literary prizes are ‘problematic’ says Lionel Shriver – Orange Prize (now called the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction) winner Lionel Shriver criticized women’s literary prizes, called International Women’s Day “creepy,” and dismissed the idea of a Year of Publishing Women in 2018. Her critique goes back to the debate over how entrenched, institutional inequity should be addressed, although Shriver seems to go beyond that in diminishing the prestige of awards like the Bailey Prize.
She said: “It’s rubbish. I think that’s really all it deserves. This whole thing of treating women specially, as if they need special help and special rules, is problematic and obviously backfires. It is the big downside to the Orange Prize. Having won it, I never want to seem ungrateful, and I don’t bad mouth the Orange Prize. Kate Mosse who runs it is very approachable on how the prize has its problematic side. But I would still feel perfectly comfortable saying it is not as meaningful to me to have won the Orange Prize as say it would have been to win the Booker. Most people who win that prize surely say the same thing: you have eliminated half the human race from applying. …I took the money! But there is this problem of suggesting that we need help, that men have to leave the room and then we’re prize worthy. The idea of only publishing women is the same thing.” – The Bookseller
#wlclub, the women’s book club on Twitter that will take over your reading list – Has anyone signed up for this? The club’s focus is on women writing about women, and Zora Neale Hurston’s Wrapped in Rainbows is the selection for March. It was started by Rachel Syme and in less than a month went from less than two hundred to more than a thousand members. In many ways Twitter is the prefect venue for something like this — or at least it was back before all the promoted tweets and algorithmic timeline shenanigans.
#wlclub is a Google group book club, a Slack community, Syme’s brainchild and an online meeting place for readers to parse women’s biographies, written by women. Its mission is simple: read more books about women, by women. Anyone can join — the club counts several men among its members. The group’s first selection was Janet Malcolm’s “The Silent Woman: Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes.” – The Washington Post
Female Publishing Leaders Talk Gender Equality at Work – Speaking of gender equity, it remains a problem in publishing, especially among the Big 5 (an even more so when combined with racial and ethnic diversity). I’m wary of the argument that female-headed companies are more profitable, but clearly there are work culture issues that are being ignored when women do not have prominent leadership roles, which make it more difficult to cultivate more female leaders.
In a discussion titled “Women at the Intersection of Publishing, Finance and Tech” on the third day of Digital Book World 2016, female publishing executives discussed what it takes to grow their businesses while encouraging gender equality in all sectors of the business world. Moderated by Charlotte Abbott of Abbott Communications and INscribe Digital, the talk included Sourcebooks’s Dominique Raccah, NetGallery’s Susan Ruszala, DeSilva+Phillips’s Joanna Stone Herman, and Penguin Random House’s Katherine McCahill.
To demonstrate the urgency of the subject, Abbott recited statistics regarding gender equality in the workplace. Though women represent 59 percent of upper management roles in book publishing, for example, men account for 20 percent of leadership roles at the Big Five publishing companies.
Moreover, tech companies are male-dominated at all levels, and the presence of women decreases at upper management levels. Venture capitalists are also more likely to be white males, and only eight percent of funded companies are female-founded. – Digital Book World
Debut writers dominate Baileys fiction prize longest – Created in 1996 for female-authored books published in the UK The Orange/Baileys Prize comes with £30,000 in prize money and eleven out of the twenty entries on this year’s long list are debut books. Which hopefully speaks to the strength of women’s writing this year. The full long list is as follows:
- Kate Atkinson – A God in Ruins (Doubleday) – British – 9th Novel
- Shirley Barrett – Rush Oh! (Virago) – Australian – 1st Novel
- Cynthia Bond – Ruby (Two Roads) – American – 1st Novel
- Geraldine Brooks- The Secret Chord (Little, Brown) – Australian/ American – 5th Novel
- Becky Chambers – The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet (Hodder & Stoughton) – American – 1st Novel
- Jackie Copleton – A Dictionary of Mutual Understanding (Hutchinson) – British – 1st Novel
- Rachel Elliott – Whispers Through a Megaphone (One, an imprint of Pushkin Press) – British – 1st Novel
- Anne Enright – The Green Road (Jonathan Cape) – Irish – 6th Novel
- Petina Gappah – The Book of Memory (Faber & Faber) – Zimbabwean – 1st Novel
- Vesna Goldsworthy – Gorsky (Chatto & Windus) – British/ Serbian – 1st Novel
- Clio Gray – The Anatomist’s Dream – (Myrmidon) – British – 8th Novel
- Melissa Harrison – At Hawthorn Time (Bloomsbury) – British – 2nd Novel
- Attica Locke – Pleasantville (Serpent’s Tail) – American – 3rd Novel
- Lisa McInerney – The Glorious Heresies (John Murray) – Irish – 1st Novel
- Elizabeth McKenzie – The Portable Veblen (Fourth Estate) – American – 2nd Novel
- Sara Novic – Girl at War (Little, Brown) – American – 1st Novel
- Julia Rochester – The House at the Edge of the World (Viking) – British – 1st Novel
- Hannah Rothschild – The Improbability of Love ( Bloomsbury) – British – 1st Novel
- Elizabeth Strout – My Name is Lucy Barton (Viking) – American – 5th Novel
- Hanya Yanagihara – A Little Life (Picador) – American – 2nd Novel – BBC News