By Jason Boog on Nov 06, 2009 09:23 AM
When Publishers Weekly released a series of Best Books of 2009 lists this week, the "Top Ten" list did not include any books by women authors. GalleyCat wrote about the ensuing controversy on Wednesday, as the founders of Women In Letters And Literary Arts (WILLA) passionately rejected the list.
The story generated a stream of Twitter posts and plenty of literary debate. Since that story, a number of other news outlets reported on the story, including the Guardian, NY Times, Salon, and Publishers Weekly.
You know, it's entirely possible that the group voting on the Top Ten best books arrived at their decision honestly. Truly felt that these were the most deserving choices. Of course then you have to look at the composition of the group itself. All lists, awards, kudos, plaques are the result of completely subjective judgements.
The problem here is the kind of importance we vest in top ten lists of any kind except sales. My top ten'll probably be a lot different from yours and yours'll be a lot different from the guy next door's. I mean they're fun to read, top ten lists are, but in the long run who gives a rat's ass? They're most useful to individual winners for promotion--and that's a fair use--but beyond that, not much.
Look at awards.
Look at all the enduring movies that didn't even get an Academy Award nomination. Look at all the enduring novels The National Book Awards seem never to have heard of. The Grammy Awards have long been a joke. Even the lauded Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is a commingling of favors and foolishness.
I've won a fair share of awards and lost many, many more. The only time losing bothered me was when a friend told me that I'd lost by one vote and that the vote had been his. I didn't care about so much about losing--in fact the book I lost to was better than mine--but I wish he'd hadn't given me the background.
Awards come, awards go. Every once in awhile they're even deserved. I like to win awards and so do you. But sometimes we lose all perspective about them. And the same with Top Ten lists.
All this said, I have to find it strange that with so many female writers at the peak of their game that all the slots went to men. Not even one woman?