The Publishers Weekly list of the "100 best books of 2009" includes shockingly few works by women. So what else is new? The Sisters in Crime response has been posted by SinC President Marcia Talley at

Take a look and offer your own views on the topic.

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None in the Top 10, in fact, including Lorrie Moore's new novel which has been getting raves. Nope--no bias there.
People like what they like. What difference does it make whether a book is written by a man or a woman? This is just PW's opinion of their favorite books. Are they supposed to forgo their honest feelings in favor of evening out the numbers?
PW is a publication that influences what libraries buy and what booksellers stock. Opinions published in PW have an impact on people's careers. Their professional responsibility goes a little beyond picking their personal favorites, just as judges for prestigious awards like the Edgars are expected to put aside personal bias and judge work on its inherent merits. Whether the bias against women writers is conscious or not, it does exist.
Is there any evidence that PW did not make its list based on the work's inherent merits? It is impossible to judge whether a book is "good" or not and be completely objective about it. We all have different ideas about what makes a book good. Some like graphic violence while others are turned off by it, for example. SinC is just looking at the numbers here. They see the list, count em up, and because women are fewer (29/100 by my count), there automatically must be some kind of discrimination going on. Are you suggesting that these people sat around and said, "gee this book is great, but we can't put it in the top 10. It's written by a woman"? Do you have any evidence for such behavior?

Some people have a bias against women writers, yes, but what evidence is there that the people who made this list do? Just because there are fewer women on it? If that's the case, then SinC must have some bias against men. Only 1 out of their 12 board members is a man.

And what about other groups? Asian authors are even more under-represented (4 or five I think). Why isn't SinC complaining about that? Or Hispanic authors, or black authors, or young authors, or whatever. There are a lot of groups under-represented on the list; does that mean PW is biased against all of them?
Women make up half the population, John. I'm not saying they (or any group) should be proportionally represented, but when the under representation is as dramatic as this it's bound to raise questions, no?
If you don't think a particular group should be proportionally represented, then why do you even assume that women have been under-represented here?
Because it's obvious, John.
We've had similar discussions. I'm with John Dishon on this. Not too long ago I served on the Shamus Award jury, and we got lambasted because we didn't have any women finalists. You just can't play the numbers game with those sorts of decisions.

Now, there are some fine women writers. I recall the Man Booker prize winner Rose Tremain was one. RESTORATION was an amazing novel. This year Hilary Mantel won with WOLF HALL. I bought the book but am still reading her A PLACE OF GREATER SAFETY, a novel about the French revolution. This one is good but not great. I have high hopes for WOLF HALL.
At the same time I think they have a responsibility to examine their own biases and make damned sure they're not excluding anyone unfairly. That's just basic professionalism. What critics of PW suggest is that it seems improbable in a given year that a woman author (Lorrie Moore, say) wouldn't have written one of the year's "best" books, whatever that means. Imagine the cries of reverse sexism and political correctness gone wild if the top ten were all women!
And yet.
So because it's improbable, it can't be true? And why is it improbable?
Because there are so many great writers who are women. I suppose it's possible that, as a gender, they had an off year--but that seems improbable. As in: not probable.


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