Fiction gender gap persists

// 31 May 2005

A new report has revealed that men know that women are writing important books, but don’t want to read them, the Observer reports.

The report, which marks the 10th anniversary of the Orange prize for fiction, which is only open to women writers, found that “fiction by women remains ‘special interest’, while fiction by men still sets the standard for quality, narrative and style.”

The report revealed that men were still less likely to have read a novel by a woman than by a man. In contrast, women read books by both genders.

The report found that: “Pressed for a preference, many men also found it much more difficult to ‘like’ or ‘admire’ a novel authored by a woman – for them ‘great’ writing was male writing (oh – apart from Jane Austen, of course).

“No wonder, then, that each year when the winner of the Orange Prize is announced a chorus of disappointment goes up from ‘mainstream’ critics: how could such an undistinguished book have won?”

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