Monday, January 26, 2009

Balancing the reviews/Simon Mayo's book programme

When I'm putting together the weekly reviews, I try and get an equal balance of books by male and female authors. There's a strong feeling amongst female writers (and is probably supported by empirical data) that they do not get reviewed as much as men, at least in the mainstream press. Lizzie Hayes along with a couple of female crime writers set up Mystery Women over eleven years ago to promote female writers (a la Sisters in Crime in the US).

I've only been listening to Simon Mayo's Book Review Programme podcast for three weeks, so maybe this isn't a fair sample, but the authors whose books were reviewed, were as follows:
Week 1: Martin Davies and Joanna Trollope
Week 2: Nicolo Ammaniti and M R Hall
Week 3: Nick Brownlee and Stephen Leather
As well as Simon and the featured authors, there are normally three reviewers. Weeks 1 and 3 had one female reviewer. So that's 1 out of 6 books by female authors and 2 out of 9 female reviewers. Perhaps this week there will be two books by female writers and a panel of female reviewers...


Maxine Clarke said...

Naturally, I agree -it is a good point. I hope they choose some of the many good books being written by women in the next few programmes - and take the daring step of asking more women to review them.
In their defence, maybe they thought M R Hall was a woman, as the book's protagonist is one ;-)?

Stephanie Mayer has been in the top four bestselling slots for a few weeks now. New books in our genre by Sophie Hannah, P D James, Ruth Rendell/Barbara Vine etc would qualify - and there are many non-genre books to choose from of course.

Now, what would be really radical would be if they chose a few translated books!

Dorte H said...

Interesting angle, Karen.

I am also writing about gender just now (coming up soon), but I am going to focus on books written by Scandinavian women.

Bernadette said...

I've been listening to Simon Mayo's show for a year or so and I wouldn't have said it was that biased - if you look at the list for the last year and it's not 50/50 but it's better than the last three weeks would lead you to believe

They've had episodes where both books have been by women writers.

Until the last few weeks they've always had the same woman on the review panel along with Joel and the other bloke - I thought perhaps she had gone on holidays as they seem to have been scrambling for people on the break.

Interestingly there was much discussion from Matthew Hall about his publishers making him be M R Hall because women buy crime fiction and want to buy female authors!

Karen (Euro Crime) said...

Thanks for the link Bernadette. Yes there a a few double women author shows, phew. I'd like to have listened to some of those. Quite a lot are crime fiction related which is great (for me!). I hoped you know if I was reading too much into the 3 shows I've heard :).

One translated book in the 3 shows I've listened to,Maxine. Though neither library I belong to has it yet...

Look forward to your article Dorte!

Dorte H said...

I had expected it would be ready for today, but I contacted a Danish expert on the subject. She kindly offered to take a look at my translation of something she had written which is very kind of her as it is full of ´feminist jargon´. So now I have to wait for her answer, of course :)
But it will certainly be straight from the horse´s mouth when it comes. lol