One-Minute Book Reviews

October 30, 2009

Women Shut Out of Publishers Weekly List of 10 Best Books of 2009

Filed under: News — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 2:18 pm
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Poetry and books from small presses don’t make the grade, either

No books by female authors appear on the list of the 10 best books of the year just posted by Publishers Weekly, the leading industry trade journal. I focus on reviews on One-Minute Book Reviews but have reacted to the shutout in tweets at that mention a couple of titles by women that PW might have included.

If you look at the trade journal’s list, you may notice that apart from having no books by female authors, it has no poetry or books from small presses. And 70 percent of the titles come from Random House and its imprints (Knopf, Doubleday, Spiegel & Grau, Ballantine and Pantheon) with the rest coming from Norton and Penguin. Best-of-the-year lists are arbitrary and often inscrutable, so I won’t try to dissect PW‘s here. But if I see noteworthy patterns emerging in these lists, I may comment on them in “Late Night With Jan Harayda,” a series of occasional posts that appear after 10 p.m. Eastern Time and don’t include reviews.


  1. Even when we point out the nonsense and favoritism tangled up in these lists, the primary response from the list makers is silence. There’s never any rationale offered about why book XYZ was included while book ABC was ignored.


    Comment by knightofswords — October 31, 2009 @ 10:27 am | Reply

    • I’ve written (on this site or elsewhere) that there’s often a code of omertà among the judges of literary prizes and similar honors like the “ten best” lists. The judges typically explain in the citation why one book won, but not why others lost.

      Comment by 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom — October 31, 2009 @ 1:30 pm | Reply

      • Unless the winner is an outright joke, it’s easy to lavish praise on it, ignoring why a more praiseworthy book remained in the shadows.

        So it goes.

        Comment by knightofswords — October 31, 2009 @ 9:02 pm

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