No, my name didn't appear in the table of contents of the virtually "all dude" April 29th issue of the New Yorker, but my novel, Falling to Earth, was reviewed in the "In Brief" section, along with Pulitzer Prize winner Elizabeth Strout's The Burgess Boys.
I know, I know. It's not the same as having a byline and being paid to write an original piece for the magazine. It is, however, a serious assessment and promotion of my work as a writer, and it represents the only part of the April 29th issue that is faultlessly balanced in its review of four new books: two by women, two by men, and we women are even on top.
Did anyone really think that an issue of the New Yorker would magically include even 50 percent women writers? No. Did we want to be reminded of that perpetual imbalance? Perhaps not. Did we need to be reminded? Absolutely.
All of this was preceded a few days earlier by Amanda Filipacchi's New York Times piece exposing Wikipedia's sweeping women novelists under the carpet by moving them into the subcategory American Women Novelists, allowing the men to stay where they were in the main American Novelists category. It turns out now that not all of the women were moved, but that many were never included in anything but subcategories to begin with.
This additional revelation is anything but conciliatory. It means only that literary sexism is still deeply entrenched, and that our society continues to fail -- and even refuse -- to grant certain writers equal status simply because they are women. There is no Wikipedia subcategory for American men novelists. I checked.
What now? Remain vigilant. Never assume that women writers can't lose ground because we gained some in the past. And remember to assess a publication's content and not just run a finger down its list of contributors. Read, for example, Alex Ross's piece, "Even the Score," about the misogyny endemic in classical music in the April 29th issue of the New Yorker. Note, as you read, his assertion that "any institution that made a habit of spotlighting women would, by default, become a livelier place."
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