3.11.09

Why Weren’t Any Women there?

For Immediate Release November 2, 2009


Why Weren’t Any Women Invited To Publishers Weekly’s Weenie Roast?

Publishers Weekly recently announced their Best Books Of 2009 list.
Of their top ten, chosen by editorial staff, no books written by women
were included. Quoted in The Huffington Post, PW confidently admitted
that they're “not the most politically correct" choices. This
statement comes in a year in which new books appeared by writers such
as Lorrie Moore, Margaret Atwood, Alice Munro, Mavis Gallant, Rita
Dove, Heather McHugh and Alicia Ostriker.

“The absence made me nearly speechless.” said writer Cate Marvin,
cofounder of the newly launched national literary organization WILLA
(Women In Letters And Literary Arts), which, since August, has
attracted close to 5400 members on their Facebook web page, including
many major and emerging women writers. “It continues to surprise me
that literary editors are so comfortable with their bias toward male
writing, despite the great and obvious contributions that women
authors make to our contemporary literary culture.”

WILLA’s other cofounder, Erin Belieu, Director Of The Creative Writing
Program at Florida State University, asked, “So is the flipside here
that including women authors on the list would just have been an
empty, politically correct gesture? When PW’s editors tell us they’re
not worried about ‘political correctness,’ that’s code for ‘your
concerns as a feminist aren’t legitimate.’ They know they’re being
blatantly sexist, but it looks like they feel good about that. I, on
the other hand, have heard from a whole lot of people—writers and
readers--who don’t feel good about it at all.”

PW also did a Top 100 list and, of the authors included, only 29 were
women. The WILLA Advisory Board is in the process of putting together
a list titled “Great Books Published By Women In 2009.” This will be
posted to the organization’s Facebook page and website. A WILLA Wiki
has also been started for people to share their nominations for Great
Books By Women in 2009. Press release to follow.

WILLA was founded to bring increased attention to women’s literary
accomplishments and to question the American literary establishment’s
historical slow-footedness in recognizing and rewarding women writer’s
achievements. WILLA is about to launch their website and is in the
process of planning their first national conference to be held next
year.

(Note: until recently, WILLA went under the acronym WILA, with one
“L.” If you’re interested in the organization, please Google WILA with
one “L” to see background on how this group was originally formed.)

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