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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That isn't outsourced yet?

Using Churchill's speech reminded me why I love books so much. Yesterday I was reading a mystery novel, Robert Rotenberg's Old City Hall and he has a character thinking about the trouble he had learning english as an adult until one of his teachers explained that english came from Anglo-Saxon and Norman and Celt and lots more. "English was not a language, he explained, it was a car crash." Then he talks about how Churchill understood the power of language and how in that speech he used only Anglo-Saxon words, none of those flowery, foreign Norman words. Except "Surrender," the only three syllable word in the whole speech. "We will never surrender."

And he used that one to reinforce that even the idea of surrender was foreign.
Conversely, your children may be faced with that form of testing.

(Arrgh! This was for Jon's post.)
Considering that books are acquired (by agents and editors) simply because the content may rack up high sales, it is very unlikely that the truly good books won't stand out by a mile.
How about some actual probabilities...

Assume for the sake of argument that there are an equal number of women authors and men authors with equal skill and talent so that it's simply luck gender-wise as to who gets added to a list of the ten best.

In that case there is a 1 in 1,024 chance of all men being selected, and an identical probability of all women being selected or 1 chance in 512 that one gender would run the table. Long odds, but sometimes long odds pay off, and long odds always pay off given enough chances.

Consider also that there would be only a 25% chance that the break-out would be five to five, so three quarters of the time one gender would be expected to predominate. Finally, there would be an 11% chance that one gender or the other would garner 8 or more out of 10 slots. In other words, more than ten percent of the time expect a landslide for one gender.
I should mention I have no idea whether my assumptions are accurate. I don't know, for example, whether there are an equal number of male and female authors writing the kind of serious books up for consideration. (And yes, what's considered serious is debatable.)
I'd say the odds of one of these lists turning out be all women are roughly zero, but then I'm kind of old school.
We have had some literary prize lists in Canada be all women. Of course, last night our Giller prize (big deal here) had four women nominees and a guy and he won it (Alice Munro took herself out of the running and everyone was shocked Margaret Atwood wasn't nominated), so go figure.
Yeah, but you're talking about Canada, for God's sake. Those people are commies up there.
Well, okay, you got me there.
Am not.
John D likes to take the contrarian view. I like to take a view that's contrary to the contrarian view. I do have an argumentative streak (I blame my upbringing), which I try to confine to online discussion boards and such, and which is one of my most annoying character flaws. Oh well.


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