Saturday, June 4, 2011

Naipual : Women Writers Are Too Sentimental

In a recent interview with Royal Geographic society author VS Naipaul said a women writer could never be his literary equal because they are too sentimental. I've never read Naipaul but when I worked at a bookstore I've always heard he's not the nicest person and wouldn't be attending any feminist rallies.

Besides talking about books, booksellers also talk about authors. Doing serious author intel before me make any assumptions. Reading interviews, paying close attention at author events, customers give great impartial info every time they tell a bookseller what they thought of an author at a book signing. There are a few other things, and its enough for booksellers to make educated guesses about an author's personality. I will admit its not always on the mark but in this case it was pretty spot on.

Many are outraged by Naipaul's comments which is as it should be. In one of the article's someone said you can't classify writing by gender. I actually think you can and there's nothing wrong with that. Women and men just write differently. A problem only arises when someone says one way is better than the other. There is no better simply different.

The Guardian UK put together The Naipaul Test: Can You Tell the Author's Sex
I got 7 out of 10 correct. If you take it come back and tell us how you did. Also do you think writing can be classified by gender?


Pam Pho said...

I got 6 out of 10 right the other day. I thought Nicholas Sparks was a woman which made me giggle. This guy seems to be doing this sort of thing for the publicity. I personally decided not to write about him but to completely ignore that he exists from now on.

Doret said...

The Guardian's test made it hard for me to resist talking mentioning Naipaul's recent comments.

I've always heard Sparks gets very upset if anyone says he writes romance.

sel said...

Apparently, if other authors (including the one he just reconciled with publicly) are to be believed, Naipaul has always had issues.

He can believe what he likes, but I can also read what I like. And I've decided *not* to give his works any time out of my life.

I also think, however, that gender is a bigger issue in the book world than Naipaul. We have, for instance, a whole genre named "women's fiction" or more disparagingly, "chick-lit" that somehow implies books for women are completely different than those for women. The blogger over at Savidge Reads mentioned just a few months ago that he was invited (and he agreed) to speak on a panel on the topic of "Why men don't read books by women authors" (he was on the panel to prove that they sometimes do). And only recently, both the Library Journal and the Wall Street Journal have published recommended reading lists that separate picks based solely on the reader's gender. These are just some of the things I've noticed recently, but I'm guessing there are more examples. There's no doubt in my mind that Naipaul is a misogynist lunatic, but the book publishing world isn't sending such a completely different message either.

sel said...

Ooops, I meant "...that somehow implied books for women are completely different from those for men."

Tarie Sabido said...

OMG! I scored only 3 out of 10 and apparently I mistook Naipaul's own work as female writing. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

I attended a session at the Asian Festival of Children's Content on "writing to engage boys." I asked the speaker, Ken Spillman, a YA author from Australia, if he thought there was such a thing as feminine writing and masculine writing. He said no. I would have to say that a really good writer could certainly write an authentic "male" voice for a male narrator/main character or an authentic "female" voice for a female narrator/main character.

Doret said...

I don't have a problem with "chick lit" as a genre

Even when it was at its' height of popularity there was never any fear of women fiction being limited to chick lit.

Men do read female author's, but not women's fiction.

If a guy wanted me to suggest a few female authors, I would never recommend, Kimberla Lawson Roby, or Kristin Hannah.

Sel- if you can them please send the links to Library Journal and Wall Street Journal list or name a few of the titles. Thanks