Books About Women Rarely Win Top Prizes

In What's the Buzz by Edward Nawotka

After analyzing 15 years’ worth of top literary prize winners, Nicola Griffith notes that books about women rarely win.

By Edward Nawotka, Editor-in-Chief

It’s rather amazing, considering that women are easily the most prolific readers and buyers of books, but as novelist Nicola Griffith reveals in a series of simple pie charts: books featuring women protagonists or about women rarely win the top book prizes.

Writing on her blog, Griffith notes: “I analyzed the last 15 years’ results for half a dozen book-length fiction awards: Pulitzer Prize, Man Booker Prize, National Book Award, National Book Critics’ Circle Award, Hugo Award, and Newbery Medal.

Pulitzer Prize Chart

Pulitzer Prize Chart

Writing about the Pulitzer, she points out:

At the top of the prestige ladder, for the Pulitzer Prize women wrote zero out of 15 prize-winning books wholly from the point of view of a woman or girl. Zero. For the prize that recognizes “the most distinguished fiction by an American author,” not a single book-length work from a woman’s perspective or about a woman was considered worthy. Women aren’t interesting, this result says. Women don’t count.

And she has even more revealing pie charts covering most of the top prizes, which reveal that the Pulitzer is not alone in it’s bias.

Says Griffith:

It’s hard to escape the conclusion that, when it comes to literary prizes, the more prestigious, influential and financially remunerative the award, the less likely the winner is to write about grown women. Either this means that women writers are self-censoring, or those who judge literary worthiness find women frightening, distasteful, or boring. Certainly the results argue for women’s perspectives being considered uninteresting or unworthy. Women seem to have literary cooties.

Read the full article here.

About the Author

Edward Nawotka

A widely published critic and essayist, Edward Nawotka serves as a speaker, educator and consultant for institutions and businesses involved in the global publishing and content industries. He was also editor-in-chief of Publishing Perspectives since the launch of the publication in 2009 until January 2016.