Why Weren’t Any Women Invited To Publishers Weekly’s Weenie Roast?

November 4, 2009


The Academie Française

Publishers Weekly recently announced their Best Books Of 2009 list. Of their top ten, chosen by editorial staff, no books written by women were included. Quoted in The Huffington Post, PW confidently admitted that they’re “not the most politically correct” choices. This statement comes in a year in which new books appeared by writers such as Lorrie Moore, Margaret Atwood, Alice Munro, Mavis Gallant, Rita Dove, Heather McHugh and Alicia Ostriker.

“The absence made me nearly speechless.” said writer Cate Marvin, cofounder of the newly launched national literary organization WILLA (Women In Letters And Literary Arts), which, since August, has attracted close to 5400 members on their Facebook web page, including many major and emerging women writers. “It continues to surprise me that literary editors are so comfortable with their bias toward male writing, despite the great and obvious contributions that women authors make to our contemporary literary culture.”

WILLA’s other cofounder, Erin Belieu, Director Of The Creative Writing Program at Florida State University, asked, “So is the flipside here that including women authors on the list would just have been an empty, politically correct gesture? When PW’s editors tell us they’re not worried about ‘political correctness,’ that’s code for  ‘your concerns as a feminist aren’t legitimate.’ They know they’re being blatantly sexist, but it looks like they feel good about that. I, on the other hand, have heard from a whole lot of people—writers and readers–who don’t feel good about it at all.”

PW also did a Top 100 list and, of the authors included, only 29 were women. The WILLA Advisory Board is in the process of putting together a list titled “Great Books Published By Women In 2009.” This will be posted to the organization’s Facebook page and website. A WILLA Wiki has also been started for people to share their nominations for Great Books By Women in 2009. Press release to follow.

WILLA was founded to bring increased attention to women’s literary accomplishments and to question the American literary establishment’s historical slow-footedness in recognizing and rewarding women writer’s achievements. WILLA is about to launch their website and is in the process of planning their first national conference to be held next year.

(Note: until recently, WILLA went under the acronym WILA, with one “L.” If you’re interested in the organization, please Google WILA with one “L” to see background on how this group was originally formed.)

For more information contact:

Erin Belieu


Cate Marvin


6 Responses to “Why Weren’t Any Women Invited To Publishers Weekly’s Weenie Roast?”

  1. http://twitter.com/lindsaylorusso

    outraged, were women even allowed to vote? oh-so backwards.

  2. GREAT POST! Yes, The Boys will hold onto their publishing toys until their dying breath. Are we surprised? Not at all if you’ve wandered into their lairs. So much for gender equality in the 21st century–lipservice at best.
    When will women form their own publishing businesses and EXCLUDE writers who are NOT women? Hmm? Hers and His publishers might suit everyone’s ‘needs’ to be read in hardcopy print.
    Oh the powers that be love their wars on all fronts.
    Again. Wonderful Post. Merci, Gracias, Thank You.

  3. Alex C. Says:

    Personally I want no part of hers-and-his publishers, and I don’t know any other female writers who do either. Yes, this sucks, but the truth is that real gender equity would occasionally mean all ten writers would be male. It would ALSO MEAN that occasionally all ten would be WOMEN. SO until that happens, I’m mad too. But you’re proposing exactly the wrong solution. We want to be seen as writers not “woman writers”.

  4. Toni Says:


    Okay, so the solution to sexism is MORE sexism?

  5. Point missed. It’s not that women form publishing businesses in order to just publish great women writers–but great male writers–great writers without regard to gender. The point is having the POWER and Control in order to get great writers in to print irregardless of gender and the social network of the good old boys club.

  6. Sheila Wells Says:

    You do know what you are talking about. The subject is fascinating and i am glad i came across your post. Just admirable! Will look forward to your incoming update or i am just going to take hold of your rss feed.

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