Did you know that a book written by a female author is MUCH less likely to be reviewed in a literary journal (for instance last year The New York Review of Books published reviews for 79 women and 462 men, while The Paris Review interviewed 7 men and just 1 woman)? Or that our own media, such as The Age and the Sydney Morning Herald, display a similar bias? Or that in the past twenty years the Miles Franklin has been won by a woman only four times? Or that several state Premier’s literary award shortlists last year contained no women at all? (for more information see either the article by Kirsten Tranter or the one by Jane Sullivan)
It is more than likely that this bias is unconscious (and not the result of a deliberate [insert evil chuckle mwa ha ha ha] vendetta), but that doesn’t help the women writers. And neither does the irony inherent in being called ’one of the most under-rated authors in Australia’, when the newspaper in question (The Age), subsequently neglects to review your new book at all (deep breath). Because reviews matter, as does publicity, and awards, and selling copies to people other than family and friends.
Which is why, when I was thinking about running a competition from my website, I decided to do my bit to help the situation. Instead of just whingeing (which is my usual modus operundi), I thought I would link the two. So this competition is all about Australian women authors, and the marvellous books they write. The rules are simple - mainly because there aren’t many! Just send in a short opinion/review (a couple of lines, about 50 words or so) about a traditionally-published book written by an Australian women writer (and maybe, if you’re scratching your head trying to think of books by Australian women writers - then that says something in itself!). Send in as many entries as you like. The competition closes on the 14th October - which, serendipitously, happens to be the birthday of Miles Franklin.
Three entries will win a prize pack of four of my books (Each Way Bet, Flying the Coop, Broken and The Family Tree) and they, along with about twenty others, will be included in a pre-Christmas newsletter/catalogue of recommendations and reviews. Something fun and upbeat and suitably festive. Which will give us all some terrific gift ideas for Christmas, while simultaneously supporting the book industry AND Australian women writers. It’s a win-win (win) situation!
To enter just use the form here and then email to firstname.lastname@example.org (either attach it or cut & paste the information - sorry, that’s the extent of my technological abilities!). So looking forward to hearing from you all - the more the merrier!
Cheers, Ilsa Evans