"They know they're being blatantly sexist, but it looks like they feel good about that," said [WILLA's (the new US literary organisation Women in Letters and Literary Arts) other co-founder and director of the creative writing programme at Florida State University, Erin Belieu]. "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."The question: is it sexist? If in going through the thousands of books published this year, the top ten happened to be written by men, is it sexism? Answer: not really "blatant sexism", but it's kind of wrong. Literary sexism is often spoken of but is difficult to prove. It's known that men and women statistically like different styles and often view the literary differently (this is not to say that one is more right than the other). What remains is an argument over whether or not award-boards and juries prefer "manly" books over their female counterparts, and it's one complex, difficult argument that I still haven't figured out.
So what about this is wrong? If I don't think there's something inherently and outwardly sexist to this list (meaning, I don't think that PW intentionally left off women), what is it about it that bothers? Well, it's that you can't help but feel that there has to have been at least one (and probably many more) top-notch, incredible, mind-blowing book written this year by a woman. I'm not saying it has to be one of the big guns mentioned in the Guardian article (Atwood, Munro, Byatt, etc.), but it seems slightly sloppy of PW to judge like this. I wouldn't criticize them for purposely ignoring women writers, but I feel like publishing a list like this displays a slightly unbalanced view of this year's literature. So props for trying (points for non-fiction and graphic memoirs alike), but don't get too hurt by those calling foul. And for those on the other side, I'm not sure this is sexism out to get you - I honestly think it's just stupidity.
I'm curious to know how others interpret this. I suspect there's much to learn and understand from all sides of the story.