Monday, March 22, 2010

Too Much Misery in Women's Lit?

There's not been much wit and not much joy, there's a lot of grimness out there ... Thereare a lot of books about Asian sisters. There are a lot of books that start with a rape. Pleasure seems to have become a rather neglected element in publishing. ... I think the misery memoir has had its day, but there are an awful lot of books out there which had not a shred of redemption in them. I'm more of a light and shade person and there does need to be some joy, not just misery. ... I was surprised at how little I laughed … and the ones where there was humour were much appreciated I can tell you.
Judge Daisy Goodwin (the wonderful populariser of poetry) talks about what it was like to read 129 entries for The Orange Prize in three months, and says that she was sometimes driven to despair by the bleakness of the submissions. (Philip Henser in The Independent and William Skidelsky in The Observer both nod sagely in agreement, and this point really does beg wider discussion.)

But, says Godwin, she and her fellow judges are very proud of the longlist of 20 titles they have drawn up for the prize.  It features an both established authors (some names that spring out are Andrea Levy, Hilary Mantel, Barbara Kingsolver, Sarah Waters, MJ Hyland and Sadie Jones) and seven first time novelists from around the world. (Click table to enlarge.)

The Orange Prize is 15 years old this year, and shows no sign of buckling under the annual exclamations of outrage that it is unfair to continue a prize which sidelines male fiction writers.

Postscript :

Elizabethhc on The Reading Copy blog blames Oprah for the trend of miserable reads.


Ee Leen Lee said...

this is the publishers submissions, so market forces have to answer for some of it

Preets said...

Everyone knows Asian sisters are such a grim species, unlike, you know, European sisters or American sisters. Asian sisters, rape, poverty, good lord, whatever happened to the wholesome world of Wodehouse?

Nazri said...

i'm more into cheerful-kind of stuff.


savante said...

Grimm Sisters for sure. Nothing like the Heyer girls to keep me happy. :)

gnute said...

Zadie Smith makes me LOL.