Friday, November 06, 2009

The Stoopid. It Burns

So I read about yet another list of Great Books:

The trade publication Publishers Weekly likely wanted to provoke discussion with its annual list of the year's best books, but not like this. In its issue of Nov. 2, Publishers Weekly compiled its PW Top 10, a decidedly subjective ranking of the best fiction and non-fiction published in 2009, including the biography "Cheever: A Life" by Blake Bailey; the novel "Await Your Reply" by Dan Chaon; and the graphic novel "Stitches" by David Small. But as The Guardian reports, the ranking has drawn protests from a women's literary group, which notes that there are no female writers on the list.

No female writers at all. Now that is conclusive proof that women cannot write, whatever tests seem to suggest about our verbal talents, and nope, there was absolutely no bias in the selection process:

In her introduction to the year-end lists, Louisa Ermelino, the reviews director of Publishers Weekly, wrote, "We ignored gender and genre and who had the buzz," adding: "It disturbed us when we were done that our list was all male."

This is so stupid it's almost incandescent in its glorious stupidity. Unless none of the reviewers saw the title pages of the books they certainly could NOT ignore the gender of the author. It's usually pretty obvious from the name written there in fairly large letters. Have we learned nothing from all those studies which demonstrate that the gender of the supposed author of something DOES affect how the piece (interpreted widely here) is evaluated?

Gah. The only way a selection like this could truly ignore the gender of the author is if all books were submitted for review without any identifying information.
It is worth noting that a woman, Hilary Mantel, won this year's Man Booker Prize for Wolf Hall. Other good books written by women are suggested in the comments thread of the quoted post.