Earth to female authors? The Booker Prize 2014

BooksThe longlist to the Booker 2014 has been released, and what a white-male-dominated list it is.

I’ve already written about innovative social media campaigns such as #Readwomen2014, created because talented, female authors are largely ignored by mainstream literary journals. I also read excellent  sites such as The Writes of Women and VIDA , both of which bring attention to/promote equality for female writers.

I’ve followed debate about why movements like #Readwomen2014 and The Bailey’s Prize (formerly known as The Orange Prize)- an annual literary prize celebrating female authors- are unnecessary in today’s gender-blind literary world.  I’ve chuckled, ignored the claims that women do not need this extra attention to level the playing field, and continued on with my day.

And then a prestigious longlist is published – such as the Man Booker Prize 2014- and out of 13 authors selected, only  a  pathetic 3 are women.

So, what went wrong?

There are plenty of explanations. It isn’t only the judges, the system only allows publishing houses to submit a small amount of titles (based on how many of their novels have been longlisted in the past).

While this certainly takes pressure off the judges  shouldering all the blame, I don’t think the explanation does anything to assuage fears that this is a system seemingly stacked against female authors. One would presume that publishing houses choose authors they assume have the best chance of being longlisted.

After a 10/3 gender split in 2014, how many publishing houses are going to be chomping at the bit to submit female authors for consideration in 2015?

I, for one, won’t be waiting for the announcement of the Booker Prize in October.

I do, however, hope that #Readwomen2014 will be extended to 2015, and I do look forward to next year’s Bailey Prize longlist.

Clearly, for as long as lists like this are being produced, women authors need all the help and support they can get.


  1. evelyneholingue on August 1, 2014 at 3:27 pm

    White and male are probably the right words to use, Kimberly. The passionate debate about the absence of characters of color and various ethnic groups in children’s literature has proved that too few writers of color are currently published. Idem for women. I don’t have an anwer to the issue, but like you, have been reading (almost exclusively) books written by women.
    Great post as always.

    • kimberlysullivan on August 6, 2014 at 4:32 pm

      Great point, Evelyne. I’m not as knowledgeable about YA, but I’ve heard this as well. It’s a shame, since I imagine there must be wonderful stories originating from minority authors that may not be traditionally published. Hopefully through social media they can still find their way into the hands of readers.

  2. […] for a separate prize for female authors, but if the final list of last year’s Booker prize (see my earlier post) is anything to go by, this seems a bit of a […]

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