Thursday, June 14, 2007

Equal Opportunity Reviewing?

One of my favorite authors is taking on the New York Times' Book Review. Her beef? That the Book Review doesn't take women authors seriously. From what I've read today, I'd have to agree with her. After catching up on Jennifer Weiner's blog, and reading about her "Kanye West moment," I did a little research.

A simple search of the NY Times' website's book section turned up a few reviews each for some of the major female authors on the shelves today: Jodi Picoult, Sue Miller, Anne Tyler. Others were all but missing from the pages of the Review. Obviously this wasn't an exhaustive selection, and there are plenty of other female writers who may have been reviewed. But I still can't help wonder where reviews for the majority of women's books are. I know the books are being read. And I know they're being enjoyed--with or without representation in the Book Review. But is it fair that male writers seem to get more "face time," if you will, in the NY Times? And is there something behind this uneven treatment? Does the sex of a book's author make a difference in the way that book is treated? Is the NY Times' Book Review being *gasp* sexist? Or are there simply more male writers producing more quality writing? (I can't bring myself to believe the latter, considering the number of female names I see on the bookshelves at my local bookstores and the wonderful stories I've experienced that were written by the fairer sex.)

Jen's arguments are on-point, and the tone she gets from the Review's blogger, Dwight Garner, seems pretty heavily anti-romance. Whether the decision to look past female-written works is intentional, subconscious, or even imagined, it's certainly something I'll be keeping my eye on. I'd hate to write that Great American Novel, only to have it passed over in the review pile because my name isn't Steven, David, Richard or Dean.

You can read Jen's blog post, check out her repartee with Dwight Garner, keep an eye on the Sunday Book Review, and decide for yourself. Maybe if more people start taking notice and requesting a varied and representative sampling of available reading material the Editors will change their ways and think twice about their selections.

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