On The Books: Gender count shows literature is still a man's world

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Since 2009 the good people at VIDA have been trucking away counting bylines and book titles to give us the hard data on gender equality in literary journals. The 2013 VIDA count just went up today and the general consensus is that there is still a disparity between men and women when it comes to literary coverage — both in whose doing the writing and in whose being written about. The highlights:

– Most improved this year goes to The Paris Review. “The Paris Review’s numbers, previously among the worst in our VIDA Count, have metamorphosed from deep, male-dominated lopsidedness into a picture more closely resembling gender parity. While such progress is remarkable in one year, we are likewise pleased to note that we haven’t heard anyone bemoan a drop in quality in The Paris Review’s pages.”
– Poetry Magazine is consistently the most equal.
– The least gender equal with at least 75% male representation: The Atlantic, London Review of Books, New Republic, The Nation, New York Review of Books (actually holding steady at 80% men for four years) and New Yorker.
– Journals that skew more than 50% female: Tin House, Callaloo, The Gettysburg Review, Prairie Schooner, New American Writing, and Ninth Letter.

Amtrak is contemplating a “writers’ residency” program on their trains, which would allow writers to travel for free (or at least for cheap). They’ve already hooked up Jessica Gross, who contributes to the New York Times Magazine. Gross got to ride for free from New York to Chicago and back (straight through 44 hours, no hanging out in the Windy City.) After the trip, she wrote a piece for The Paris Review on her time. Sounds a little like…how do I say this? Hell. A 44 hour train ride with no destination? To me, the draw of writing on trains is open adventure, being in the Tuscan hills with nothing ahead of you except sunflowers and vineyards. Or being on the Orient Express scoping each new passenger for murderous intent in between exploring Egyptian ruins. Somehow being trapped on a commuter train between NYC and Chi-town sounds more like living Sartre’s No Exit. [The Wire]

Rick Yancy’s The 5th Wave has won the 2014 Red House Children’s Book Award (a unique award because it’s voted for entirely by children). Big surprise: the YA novel is set in a post-apocalypse dystopia. The plot follows Cassie who is left alone, after waves of extinctions, running for her life from death squads roaming the countryside. But she meets a boy named Edward — no, Peeta — no, it’s Evan this time who might be the key to her survival. [The Guardian]

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