Sunday, October 26, 2014

Women & Power & The New York Times Book Review

I felt a small jolt of joy when I saw the cover of the October 12, 2014 issue of the New York Times Book Review. An elaborate maze-style design included the titles of about 15 reviews of books authored by, and reviewed by, women. Readers would have to look carefully to see the small title at the top of the cover page, “Special Issue,” and to see that spelled out in stylized letters in the middle of the maze design were the words “Women & Power.” There are many studies, including those by the wonderful organization Vida, that show that books by women are under-reviewed, and that reviewers are more often men than women. There are also controversies about whether having special issues about women marginalizes them, especially if the rest of the time the problem continues. I am not going to address those issues now (I have addressed them in the past, and I am sure I will in the future), but now I just want to say how happy I felt to see this issue, a Christmas-morning-I-can’t-wait-to-open-the-gifts feeling. And what riches the special issue contains! My only personal regret is that most of the books reviewed are nonfiction rather than fiction. But that makes sense in an issue about “Women & Power”; although fiction also often addresses this issue, it generally does so less directly. The books reviewed include titles by Caitlin Moran, Katha Pollitt, Gail Sheehy, Lena Dunham, Kirsten Gillibrand, Rebecca Makkai (“The Hundred Year House,” which I wrote about here on 8/31/14), and the wonderful Roxanne Gay (whose book “Bad Feminist” I will post on in a few days). The one book by a male author (Jonathan Eig) is included, I assume, because his topic and title are “The Birth of the Pill.” Reviewers and columnists include Meghan Daum, Sloane Crosley, Kimberle Crenshaw (the law professor who first wrote about intersectionality), and Cheryl Strayed. It is sad that we still need special issues on women writers and women’s issues, but since we do, I always appreciate, value, enjoy, and learn from them.
Site Meter