Shamsie calls for 'Year of Publishing Women'

Shamsie calls for 'Year of Publishing Women'

Author Kamila Shamsie has suggested a 'Year of Publishing Women' to help reset the gender imbalance when it comes to published authors.

Writing in this week’s issue of The Bookseller, Shamsie said the basic premise of the initiative, which she proposed would take place in 2018 to coincide with the 100th anniversary of women getting the vote in the UK, was that “all new titles published in that year should be written by women”.

In Shamsie’s piece the author, who was shortlisted for this year’s Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction for A God in Every Stone (Bloomsbury), said that prizes, the media and publishers all contributed to a lack of female writers being recognised.

She quoted recent research by author Nicola Griffith, which showed major literary prizes were less likely to award books told by or focusing on the experience of women, and also looked at the people featured in the Guardian’s books of the year feature over the past five years.

“The question isn’t: ‘Is there a problem?’” said Shamsie. “It’s: ‘Are we recognising how deep it runs and do we know what to do about it?’”

She continued: “Now that the gender problem has been recognised, analysed, translated into charts and statistics, it is time for everyone in our literary culture to sign up to a campaign to redress the inequality for which all sectors of the culture bear responsibility.”

The knock-on effect of a Year of Publishing Women “will be evident in review pages and blogs, in bookshop windows and front-of-store displays, in literature festival line-ups and in prize submissions”.

"…If some publishing houses refuse to sign up, the its for the literary pages and booksellers and bloggers and literary festivals to say that their commitment to the YPW means they won't be able to give space to their male writers that year."

She added: “It we are to truly claim that we’re pushing back against inequality, it’s essential that the build up to the YPW should include conversations, debates, research, deep thinking and commitments to ensure that the YPW doesn’t end up looking like the year of publishing young, straight, white, middle-class, metropolitan women.”