First of all, thank you for your comments, support, questions and thoughts
responding to my post about the ZERO women (and almost total absence of people of color) on Publishers Weekly's Best Books of 2009 list. I feel energized, inspired, and yes, mad. Fighting mad. So what to do about it?
Not generate another list. (For more on why not, see my P.S.) Instead, participate on our first-ever SHE WRITES DAY OF ACTION. By Friday, November 13th, please do three simple, but enormously powerful, things:
1) Post a blog
on She Writes responding to the exclusion of women on PW's list. Make your own list, as many of you have done already
, or take this opportunity to reflect more broadly the ramifications of its women-cook-the-food-but-only-men-get-Michelin-stars message, and share your thoughts with us all. (More ideas on this to come.)
2) Buy a book written by a woman in 2009. Take a photo of yourself holding it. Post its cover on your page. Tell us what book you bought, and why
3) Invite five women writers you know
to read your words and join us on She Writes.
Once you have posted your blog, send me the link at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will send these links to entire community (5000+) on Saturday. We will send out a press release then too. If you are a well-known writer, you know how greatly we need your response, your leadership, and your help in spreading the word. If you aren't, we greatly need your response and your leadership too. Use this platform as a platform of your own. What else is She Writes for?
Let's make a statement that no one can ignore. Join us, BY FRIDAY, in our first-ever day of action, and we will do the rest. I'd like to see hundreds, if not thousands, of posts, and hundreds, if not thousands, of purchases. Vote with your voice and with your wallet. Push back. Make it good. Make it right.
Warm best, as ever, and more soon,
My first impulse in response to PW's "Top Ten Books of 2009" -- delivered with sincere apologies for its sexist, racist nature, as though these books had been handed down to PW by God and there was nothing they could do about the fact that the outcome ignored the brilliant efforts of the majority of the human race -- was to create an alternative list by soliciting submissions from our community and tallying the results. My aim was never to produce a list of works solely by women or people of color, but rather a list based on what all of you believed to be the BEST BOOKS of the year -- a list that could not possibly result in books written almost exclusively by white dudes. I wanted to produce this list because I believe that Top Ten lists matter, or at least that they have power. Top Ten Lists can boost book sales, improve an author's chances of a larger print run, bolster support for a book inside a publishing house and out, and help an author negotiate her next deal. (Or in this case, his.) Top Ten Lists separate the good from the best, and speak volumes about the voices that are valued and the respect accorded, especially in an industry-standard magazine like PW, to the authors so-named. Several of you pointed out, rightly, that plenty of women are listed in PW's 100 Best Books of 2009, aka the "not quite top-ten list." But frankly that makes me even madder. Women wrote lots of good books in 2009, but not one of the best books? Bullshit.
And this got me to thinking about the ramifications of producing a She Writes Best Books of 2009. First, we don't have time to do it properly, and the last thing I want to do is produce or promote a flawed list. Second, I'd rather be transparent about what lists like this really mean. They are subjective, as many of you have observed, and those who write them should be accountable for what they say. (We have inquired, btw, about how exactly PW arrived at theirs, and are awaiting their response.) Third, I'd rather use this network to organize a powerful, coordinated response that demonstrates what we all know: we ARE writers to be reckoned with. We are no longer on the outside looking in. And we should flex our collective muscle in a way that supports the efforts of the writers we admire.