Yesterday’s announcement for this year’s Man Booker Prize longlist is a big disappointment for female authors: from the 13 nominees, only three are women. It seems appropriate then that 2014 has been declared the year of reading women. Tired of the massive imbalance between male and female writers and reviewers, a few organizations and individuals decided to take matters into their own hands.
At the forefront is artist Joanna Walsh’s #readwomen2014 project. Starting as a few Christmas cards that Walsh sent to friends declaring 2014 the “the year of reading women” and with a list of 250 odd female authors to get sunk into, the project now has a following of almost 5,000 on Twitter. The Twitter page features suggestions of books to read by female authors, both classics and new releases, as well as news snippets and competition announcements. One post, for example, diverts us to NY Mag’s list of 20 classic stories by New Yorker women.
Last year, a report from VIDA: Women in Literary Arts showed that of all their reviews in 2012, the New York Review of Books published just 16% by female reviewers, with 22% of the total books reviewed written by women. A study by The Guardian looking at female reviewers in the UK found that, in March 2013, 8.7% of books reviewed in the London Review of Books were by women, 26.1% in the New Statesmen, and 34.1% in The Guardian.
Unfortunately, female authors still have a long way to go in the literary world. Start your #readwomen2014 campaign with the three Man Booker Prize nominees: Karen Joy Fowler’s We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, Siri Hustvedt’s The Blazing World, and Ali Smith’s How to be Both.