Monday, November 4, 2013

On Women "Dominating" YA literature

There is an interesting blog post over at Stacked Books that discusses the idea that women writers are "dominating" YA literature by looking at the data for the New York Times Bestseller List.

From the blog post:

"As should be absolutely clear, there has never been a time women have outnumbered men on the NYT List in the top ten. Never.
It gets more interesting if you look at how few spots individual women have had on the top ten list. There have been nine weeks when only one woman has had a spot on the top ten. That woman is, of course, Veronica Roth."

"Books written by women have never once -- never once -- had at least half of the spaces on the top ten list. They've had a few weeks occupying four spaces but never have they had five books in the top ten slots in the 47 weeks that the YA List has existed.

A couple of other factoids to include at this juncture: there have only been five weeks where a woman held the number one spot on the New York Times List for YA. Five. They were held by Veronica Roth (for four weeks -- three of which were in mid-July, on the 14th, 21st and 28th, which would reflect a bump in sales immediately following the release of the first stills of the movie and the fourth week, September 15, likely reflects sales following the release of the film's trailer) and Kiera Cass for The Elite, which stayed for one week only. Cass's novel debuted at #1 on the May 12 list, which reflects the sales for the week her book was available for purchase.

Again, in 47 weeks, there have only been two women to see the top spot. They only held it for a combined five weeks."

Click on over to the article here to see all sorts of nifty graphs and tables explaining the gender breakdown of YA authors on the NYT bestseller list. 

This is a great and necessary blog post because so often we hear that YA is all female writers or that female authors dominate YA. While this may be true in sheer numbers of YA authors out there, it is not true in the critical acclaim or public representation of YA authors. 

I'm not trying to say that there should be more female authors on the YA list than men, that's not my point. My point is that anytime women participate in something in large numbers, they are suddenly seen as "DOMINATING" it. Regardless of whether they actually are, in fact, dominating it. 

I think all of this goes back to the idea that books and writing by female authors are not seen as prestigious or "serious" work. Men are the "great American authors" and their stories are serious, profound works of art. Whereas women's work is perhaps less likely to be regarded as serious and more likely to be seen as fluffy, chick lit. 

There's a second part of this article coming tomorrow from Stacked Books. Check it out and let me know what you think. 

Does the representation of female authors on the NYT bestseller list mean anything? Does the list impact what readers are reading?? 

No comments:

Post a Comment