Lette: women 'written off' by Man Booker judges

Author Kathy Lette has accused the Man Booker judges of having "written off" women writers on the 2014 longlist.

The list was revealed last week (23rd July) and contained only three women - Ali Smith, Karen Joy Fowler and Siri Hustvedt – out of a total of 13 spots.

Lette told the Daily Telegraph: “Women are clearly runners up in the human race. Women writers have been written off by Booker judges, with only three females on the list. I wonder if women authors are going to have to go back to the days of using male pseudonyms – like Sir Donym, maybe, to give people a clue about what’s going on, to get rated.”

Lette also went onto criticize the number of women over 50 represented on television, citing research from organization Women in Journalism which found that 82% of television stars over 50 are male.

Meanwhile the Baileys Women’s Prize For Fiction has named Shami Chakrabarti, director of Liberty, as its chair of the judging panel for the 2015 prize.

Prize organisers have also released a list of the Top 20 Most Influential Books by Women today (29th July) as voted for by readers, with Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird (Arrow) revealed as the top influential book by women following a social media poll via hashtag #ThisBook, which launched by in May.

Harper Lee’s book is followed by Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale and Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte in the second and third spots, with J K Rowling coming in fourth and Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights coming in fifth.

Authors including Kate Mosse, Caitlin Moran and Joanna Trollope helped to launch the campaign in May, along with Shami Chakrabarti.

More contemporary novels on the list include The Time Traveller’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger (Vintage), The Secret History by Donna Tartt (Penguin) and Orange Prize winning novel We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver (Serpent's Tail).

Chakrabarti, who has been director of Liberty since 2003, selected Harper Lee’s novel as her top book by an inspirational woman. She said: “With human rights under attack the world over, the enduring appeal of Harper Lee's great tale gives hope that justice and equality might yet triumph over prejudice.”

The Baileys Women’s Prize panel is made up of five women and the full panel for 2015 will be announced in the Autumn.

This year’s prize winner was Eimear McBride for A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing (Galley Beggar Press).

The top 20 most influential books by women according to the Baileys Prize:
 
1) To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
2) The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
3) Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
4) Harry Potter – J. K Rowling
5) Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte
6) Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
7) Rebecca – Daphne du Maurier
8) Little Women – Louisa May Alcott
9)    The Secret History – Donna Tartt
10) I Capture the Castle – Dodie Smith
11) The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath
12) Beloved – Toni Morrison
13) Gone With the Wind - Margaret Mitchell
14) We Need To Talk About Kevin – Lionel Shriver
15) The Time Traveller’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger
16) Middlemarch – George Eliot
17) I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings – Maya Angelou
18) The Golden Notebook – Doris Lessing
19) The Colour Purple – Alice Walker
20) The Women’s Room – Marilyn French