Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Man Booker Prize 2012 longlist: zero novels by women about women

The 2012 Man Booker Prize longlist has been announced:

  • Nicola Barker, The Yips (Fourth Estate)
  • Ned Beauman, The Teleportation Accident (Sceptre)
  • AndrĂ© Brink, Philida (Harvill Secker)
  • Tan Twan Eng, The Garden of Evening Mists (Myrmidon Books)
  • Michael Frayn, Skios (Faber & Faber)
  • Rachel Joyce, The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry (Doubleday)
  • Deborah Levy, Swimming Home (And Other Stories)
  • Hilary Mantel, Bring up the Bodies (Fourth Estate)
  • Alison Moore, The Lighthouse (Salt)
  • Will Self, Umbrella (Bloomsbury)
  • Jeet Thayil, Narcopolis (Faber & Faber)
  • Sam Thompson, Communion Town (Fourth Estate)
The website points out that the list includes "four debut novels, three small independent publishers and one previous winner. Of the 12 writers, seven are men and five women; nine are British, one Indian, one South African and one Malaysian. The eldest on the list is Michael Frayn at 78 and the youngest is Ned Beauman at 27." Plus, of course, someone called Nicola--which always pleases me. Though the fact that she's writing about the masculine psyche makes me sigh.

It also made me curious. I counted up who wrote about which sex (taken from publisher descriptions and sample chapters where available) and found:
  • 4 novels by men primarily about men
  • 4 novels by women primarily about men
  • 3 novels by men primarily about women
  • 2 books of stories--presumably including some women--by a man and a woman
The total comes to more than twelve because one book--Will Self's Umbrella--is about a man and a woman. So: two-thirds of these books are about men.

But to me the most interesting datum is this: zero novels by women about women. Zero. Draw your own conclusions.
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