I have joined the party later than most (I like to think of it as being fashionably late) and signed up to the 2014 Australian Women Writers Challenge. I was inspired to sign up and make the pledge to read and review books by Australian female authors while attending the 2014 Perth Writers Festival a couple of weeks ago. I heard a number of authors speak during the day, and the ones who inspired me the most (and by that I mean, the ones whose books I bought on the day) were almost entirely Australian women authors – local authors, at that.
While at the festival, I also sat in on a talk about the Stella Prize – a literary award, now in its second year, which celebrates Australian women’s writing – and heard Stella Board Chairwoman Aviva Duffield speak of the discrepancy between the genders in book reviewing in the Australian media. The exact figures, in percentages, can be found here but the gist of the argument is that the vast majority of books reviewed in our major newspapers in 2011 and 2012 were written by men – in some cases as many as 80% of a newspaper’s total books reviewed, although across the board the figure tends to be closer to 60%. That’s nearly two thirds of all books reviewed in Australia written by men.
The Australian Women Writers Challenge attempts to redress this imbalance, and I am proud to be adding my voice to let it be known that there are excellent books being written by women here in this great country – and not just in the dreaded “women’s fiction” genre, either (have you ever heard of “men’s fiction”? No, me either). On a personal level, I get to discover some wonderful books I might not have read otherwise. And if I am reviewing them, it counts as work, so it’s win-win all around!
My first review will be out soon and I will add it to this blog as well as the AWWC website. In the meantime, I’m signing off so I can get back to reading more wonderful books by Aussie women. If you want to get on board, you can sign up here.