I don’t know much about VIDA – no, I don’t mean “life,” although I’ve got plenty to learn there, too. I mean VIDA, the organization that formed in 2009 to create more space for women in the literary dialogue. Having just attended the 2014 conference of the Association of Writers and Writing Programs (more on that to come), I can confidently say that the representation of women in the community of people who identify themselves as writers is proportionate to the general population. But every year, VIDA undertakes a painstaking manual survey of literary publications and book reviews (think Audubon here) that quantifies women’s bylines, and the number of books written by women that get reviewed. The results are highly illuminating.
Oh, and just in case you’re tempted to think that these numbers are somehow representative of a difference in submissions, or are justified by any other reason than institutional bias, here are a couple more:
In honor of The Count, I decided to examine equity in my own book reviews.
I have written 20 posts tagged “books.” Several posts involved books by more than one author, and several books were blogged about more than once, so my totals don’t add up to 20. Also, some of my earliest posts were about books, but I hadn’t started using tags when I wrote them, so they are not represented here.
Of these 20 tagged posts:
13 were about books written by a woman
9 were about books written by a man
Because I participated in the book launch for romantic comedy writer Tawna Feske’s Great Panty Caper, she is the most written-about author on the blog, with 5 posts. Second place is shared by Halldór Laxness, Leonora Carrington, Neil Gaiman, Nicholas Christopher, and Geraldine Brooks, each with two posts (Susan Orlean will join them next week).
I do not know the ethnic identity of some of the authors whose books I’ve reviewed or mentioned, but even if all of those I couldn’t identify are people of color, it is clear that my reading list is overwhelmingly white. As a world traveler with a particular fascination for Asian cultures (my Nordic/Viking obsession is rather recent) and the immigrant experience, this fact shocks and appalls me.
In preparing for Iceland Writers Retreat, I noticed that most (or maybe all) of the featured writers cite Faulkner as an influence. Maybe this is like musicians citing the Beatles, but if you’ve never heard the Beatles, you probably should. So I resolved to read Faulkner, and I’ve been building a reading list of the “right sort of books.” Meaning, I suppose, that I finally decided to read the dead white guys. But now I must amend my resolution to be more inclusive – I need to read more consciously. Because of course, “the right sort of books” is not just the old dead white guy canon, but the much richer canon of literary fiction by authors of all sorts. I have no intention of succumbing to guilt over the pleasures of books like The Great Panty Caper or Zombie Iceland, but my reading list may be in need of a little bit of curation.
And now back to our regularly scheduled navel-gazing with February blog statistics.
The blog received more new followers on February 20 than any other day in its history, but only had 6 views – so basically, on that day almost everyone who visited the site followed it. I did not post any new material on that day.
Main countries: US, France, and Canada. Strangely, Iceland was a distant sixth.
Very few people click through to the helpful links I embed in my articles.
Top search terms:
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