Apropos of Miriam’s post on the euphoric reception to Jonathan Franzen’s new novel, at least two novelists have cried foul. Not about Franzen’s book per se, but the case, advanced by Jodi Picoult and seconded by Jennifer Weiner, that the NYT Book Review favors writers who are “white and male and live in Brooklyn.” Good news for this fairly sizeable demographic; Brooklyn boys with literary leanings can now rest easier knowing that their eventual literary efforts will receive proper critical attention.
I’ve followed the ensuing discussion over the last week with interest. In the Atlantic, Spiegel and Grau editor Chris Jackson weighed in with “All the Sad Young Literary Women.” A female colleague asked him to name some female novelists whose work he had read recently, and he confessed that for a moment, he couldn’t think of any (turns out, however, that he had read at least one). This prompted me to go through my own recent reads, seeing how I measure up.
I tend to read plenty of books by women authors, but I’ve never bothered to quantify or implement a quota system. In the last couple of weeks I’ve been in something of a Y chromosome rut, reading Evelyn Waugh, whose books, aside from Scoop, I’ve not read before—Brideshead Revisited, his World War II Trilogy. Fine writer, that Waugh, but something of a snob. I did, however attempt to balance the scales by reading some Muriel Spark, in order to get a female perspective on the foibles of British bluestockings.
How about you? What do you think of Picoult’s charge? How does your own reading compare?