The Huffington Post
January 20, 2012
Do book reviewers pay enough attention to female novelists?
Jennifer Weiner, a New York Times best-selling writer, doesn’t think so, according to her recent blogpost.
It’s not the first time she’s spoken out about this issue. In 2010, she and fellow author Jodi Picoult voiced their irritation with The New York Times‘ glowing reviews of Jonathan Franzen’s “Freedom.” The chief concern? Franzen’s work concerned itself with familial issues, much like books written by women that are deemed less serious genre fiction.
According to The New Republic, Picoult said:
“I think it’s a very old and deep-seated double standard that holds that when a man writes about family and feelings, it’s literature with a capital L, but when a woman considers the same topics, it’s romance, or a beach book—in short, it’s something unworthy of a serious critic’s attention.”
In an interview published on The Huffington Post last year, Weiner agreed:
“I don’t write literary fiction – I write books that are entertaining, but are also, I hope, well-constructed and thoughtful and funny and have things to say about men and women and families and children and life in America today. Do I think I should be getting all of the attention that Jonathan “Genius” Franzen gets? Nope. Would I like to be taken at least as seriously as a Jonathan Tropper or a Nick Hornby? Absolutely.”
There are numbers to back up their grievances. According to Slate’s blog Double X, “Over about two years, from June 29, 2008 to August 27, 2010, the Times reviewed 545 works of fiction—338, or 62 percent, were by men.”