“The Year of the Women Writers.” That’s how Mariella Frostrup, host of BBC 4’s “Open Book” radio program, memorializes 2013. Women swept up most of the Anglo literary awards, with Alice Munro taking pride of place as the 2013 Nobel Prize winner in Literature.
I loved listening to the smart discussion that Frostrup leads about the state of women in fiction. (Listen to it here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b03m3nhy.) She prompted her women (and man) guests to tackle some challenging questions:
- Is there such a thing as “women’s writing”?
- How do mothers inculcate gender differences through their children’s reading choices?
- When will we reach the time when an all-female short list is no longer remarkable?
- Do women (like Hilary Mantel) still have to wait longer to get their due recognition?
- So do we still need women-only literary prizes?
We can all take heart in the fact that women are out there writing books. It’s up to the publishers and literary critics and so on to make sure that [these books] reach the readers. Because, I think, in the end readers probably have greater imagination and a greater capacity to understand than we often give them credit for. — Ellah Allfrey
As a bonus, enjoy listening to the featured excerpts included in the show: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b03m3nhy