I recently realized with the exception of genre fiction, like mystery or horror, or funny fiction from authors like David Sedaris or Christopher Moore, I don't read many White male authors. After I had this revelation, one of my first thoughts was what if Women of Color had more say in end of the year best of list, would White male authors be forgotten?
A lot of books come out in any given year, too many for anyone (even professional reviewers) to read. I've always assumed professionals reviewers typically read the books getting a lot of high praise first, next comes the books that they find interesting and could possibly be an undiscovered gem.
Women of color authors are at a real disadvantage with the second category. Maybe I am wrong but I simply don't see many White male reviewers seeking out novels by female authors of color if there isn't any buzz.
Publishers Weekly's Top Ten of 2009, did not include any female authors. Here is PW's 100 Best Books of 2009 I only see two women of color authors on the list. The LA Times favorite fiction of 2009. This time there one woman of color author. NPR's Best Books of 2009. Someone please correct me if I am wrong but I only see four authors of color. NPR's best of list are complied by different people and broken up into categories. I find it ironic that no women of color authors made the Under -The Radar List
USA Today list of the 100 bestselling books of 2009. There is only one author of color on that list. Sapphire, the author of Push. Some may think I am stretching it a bit by including that last list but I don't. Readers seek out and buy books they hear about be it book reviews, awards and end of the year list. To have only one female author of color on that USA Today list is pretty sad. Though looking at this best of list, it doesn't come as a surprise.
When I thought about how many White authors I don't read I could see how this exclusion of Women of color authors could easily happen. Though that doesn't make it right and is not an excuse. If a person is reading for pleasure, its fine to stick to what you know and love. However, when what a person reads influences what others will and will not read, they should seek out more stories.
Looking at those best of list, made me sad and angry. I didn't seek out the lists to prove my point. I simply looked for any I could find. If anyone knows of any mainstream best of list that features several female authors of color please let us know about it. Also looking at those list made me realize, though I may not read a lot of White male authors, I am not that bad. A few White male authors I've read and loved. Richard Price, Dennis Lehane, Wally Lamb, George Pelecanos, Joshua Ferris, Lee Child and David Benioff
If Women of color had more say in what was considered the best fiction, I would like to think we would do a better job of not overlooking the contributions of White male authors. Since we know how it feels to have stories about us, dismissed or unrecognized.