"Best of 2009" and "Historical Count"

March 29, 2010 | by | 10 | Tagged: ,

For the VIDA debut, I thought I’d kick things off with two views. The “Best of 2009” looks at the gender distribution of several major book awards and prominent “best of” lists. I took my second cue from Ursula K Le Guin’s 1999 talk, “Award and Gender,” in which she tallied up the historical counts of many major literary awards; my “Historical Count” follows suit, revealing an imbalance, unfortunately, resembling her own.
–Amy King

VIDA – BEST OF 2009

Amazon – Top 100 Editors’ Picks 2009

77 Men
23 Women

~~~

The American Book Awards / Before Columbus Foundation 2009

5 Men
5 Women

Lifetime Achievement Award – 1 Man

~~~

Christian Science Monitor — Best books of 2009: Fiction

5 Men
7 Women

Christian Science Monitor — Best books of 2009: Nonfiction

18 Men
4 Women

~~~

The Columbus Dispatch – Children’s Book Section Best of ’09

8 Men
8 Women
4 Man /
Woman co-authored/illustrated

~~~

Kirkus Reviews – The Best Children’s Books of 2009

12 Men
15 Women
4 Woman / Woman co-author/illustrator
2 Woman/ Man co-author/illustrator
1 Man / Man co-author

~~~

Los Angeles Times Book Prize

• 2009 Innovator’s Award – 1 Man
• 2009
Robert Kirsch Award – 1 Man

~~~

L.A. Times — Favorite Fiction of 2009

16 Men
9 Women

L.A. Times — Favorite Nonfiction of 2009

19 Men
6 Women

~~~

Library Journal “Best Books 2009” — 31 Titles

19 Men
10 Women

1 Co-authored (Man and Woman)
1 Indeterminate

Library Journal “Best Genre Fiction 2009”

Mystery3 Women / 2 Men
SF and Fantasy2 Women / 3 Men
Romance5 Women
Christian Fiction5 Women
Thrillers1 Woman / 5 Men
Street Lit 6 Woman / 2 Men

Library Journal “Best How to 2009”

• 9 Men (Single Authors) / 2 Men (co-authors) = 11 Men
• 3 Man / Woman co-authored
7 Women (6 Single Authors / One editor)

~~~

The National Book Awards – 2009

Fiction – 1 Man / 0 Women
Nonfiction – 1 Man / 0 Women
Poetry – 1 Man / 0 Women
Young People’s Literature – 1 Man / 0 Women

DISTINGUISHED CONTRIBUTION TO AMERICAN LETTERS – 1 Man / 0 Women
LITERARIAN AWARD – 1 Man / 0 Women

~~~

The National Book Critics Circle Award – 2009

2 Men
4 Women

Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing1 Woman

Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award1 Woman

~~~

NPR Best Books of 2009: The Complete List

38 Men
25 Women

~~~

New York Times – 100 Notable Books of 2009

Nonfiction
43 Men
12 Women

Fiction and Poetry
25 Men
20 Women

~~

Philadelphia Inquirer – Good Books, Good Gifts 2009

Nonfiction
16 Men
4 Women

Fiction
3 Men
3 Women

~~~

Publishers Weekly – Best Books of 2009

71 Men
29 Women

Publishers Weekly – Top 10 Books of 2009

10 Men
0 Women

~~~

Salon – Best of 2009

12 Men
6 Women

~~~

Slate – Best Reads of 2009

15 Men
7 Women

~~~

Washington Post – Best Books of 2009

Nonfiction
69 Men
17 Women
(1 Co-authored – 1 Man / 1 Woman)

Fiction
57 Men
27 Women

Washington Post — Book World  Top 10

6 Men
3 Women
1 Man/ Woman co-authored

~~~

VIDA – HISTORICAL COUNT

The American Book Awards / Before Columbus Foundation – 1980 – 2009

212 Men
148 Women

Plus Single Book co-authored or co-edited by:

Three Women: 2
Two Men and One Woman: 1
Two Women and One Man: 4
Two Women: 10
Two Men: 9
Man / Woman: 2

Lifetime Achievement Award – 8 Men / 2 Women
Editor’s Award – 2 Men / 0 Women
Journalism Award – 1 Man / 0 Women
Children’s Book 1 Woman (illustrated by a woman) / 0 Men

~~~

(Randolph) Caldecott Medal – 1938 – 2010

49 Men
23 Women

[From 2000 – 2010 = 1 Woman]

~~~

Commonwealth Writers’ Prize – 1987 – 2009

29 Men
15 Women

~~~

Man Booker Prize – 1969 – 2009

28 Men
15 Women

~~~

L.A. Times Book Prize

Biography (1980 – 2008) – 22 Men / 5 Women / [1 M/W coauthored]

Fiction (1980 – 2008) – 23 Men / 6 Women

Poetry (1980 – 2008) – 22 Men / 7 Women

Young Adult (1998 – 2008) – 6 Men / 5 Women

The Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction (1991 – 2008) — 10 Men / 7 Women

Robert Kirsch Award (1980 – 2008) — 20 Men / 9 Women

~~~

(The John) Newbery Medal – 1922 – 2010

29 Men
59 Women

~~~

The National Book Awards

Fiction (1984 – 2009) – 18 Men / 8 Women

Nonfiction (1984 – 2009) – 23 Men / 3 Women

Poetry (1991 – 2009) – 14 Men / 5 Women

Young People’s Literature (1996 – 2009) — 7 Men / 7 Women

~~~

The Nobel Prize for Literature – 1901 – 2009

91 Men
11 Women

[1950 – 2009 = 50 Men / 6 Women]

~~~

THE PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction –1981- 2009

24 Men
5 Women

~~~

The Pulitzer Prize for Biography or Autobiography – 1919 – 2009

63 Men
5 Women
2 Man co-authored
1 Man/Man/Woman co-authored

~~~

The Pulitzer Prize for Fiction – 1948 – 2009

40 Men
16 Women

~~~

The Pulitzer Prize for Nonfiction – 1962 – 2009

36 Men
11 Women
1 Man/ Woman coauthored

~~~

The Pulitzer Prize for Poetry – 1950 – 2009

44 Men
16 Women

The Pulitzer Prize for Poetry – 1918 – 1949

23 Men
7 Women

[1918 – 2009 Total: 67 Men / 23 Women ]

~~~

Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize (1986 – 2009)

15 Men
8 Women

~~~

U.S. Poet Laureate — 1937 – 2009

36 Men
10 Women

~~

10 Comments to '"Best of 2009" and "Historical Count"'

  • Thank you for this wonderful list. I’ve been thinking about women who write screenplays for feature films for a while now, for my PhD in Creative Writing. And then thanks to WILLA, via Women & Hollywood, began to wonder why women writers do so well in New Zealand (except as writers for feature films). What kinds of conditions make a difference? And here’s the post I wrote, about the institution where I was studying, which I think has made a difference over the years by nurturing writers who happen to be women. But I’m still not sure exactly how. Would love some feedback: http://wellywoodwoman.blogspot.com/2009/12/moving-forward.html

  • Regarding the evidence, women appear as dust and men as grit, except concerning children, a special category of nonfiction, apparently. Noto bene, dust never sleeps. We need the likes of your historical accounting, Amy King, in order to remember what we want to forget, and to use the numbers to embolden us even more. Thank you.

  • Ted Burke says:

    A painstaking effort, and it would seem to me that for all the talk of progress in the task of leveling the playing field, not much distance has been gained. A large part of the problem, perhaps intractable, is the nature of the awards themselves; most of the ones we think matter–the Nobel, The Pulitzer, The National Book Award, The PEN Awards– were founded by male editors , who created categories and criteria reflecting their aesthetic, which is male, straight and, for all they knew, the single standard by which other writers are to measured. Women writers have made gains in terms of critical reception and the receipt of awards, but the standards by which women are judged, I fear, is whether they write as well as a better known male. Lorrie Moore is constantly compared to John Cheever, Nikki Giovanni cannot escape being contrasted against Amiri Baraka; well intentioned critics try to explain the inevitable alignments, but the enterprise of letting the girls into the boy’s domain seems a faithless affirmative action move. I am reminded that Dick Cavett had said to his guest Susan Sontag that her name is unavoidable linked to the term “intellectual”. Sontag responded that the journalists doubtlessly think they are doing her a favor by telling readers that she’s a smart woman, but noted that male writers don’t need their introductions so qualified. She said that no one felt compelled to say that Norman Mailer was an intellectual when his name came up. It was taken for granted. The sad truth is that I think this onerous habit of keeping women writers at the margins will continue until there is a new canon formation.

  • Anna Leahy says:

    Thanks for pulling all these numbers together and making pie charts! I published an article on the term “woman poet” a couple of years ago in Legacy, and in doing the research, was amazed at the extent of gender disparity among poetry prizes. I was also struck that, for some awards, the percentages actually got worse over the last few decades instead of better. It’s tedious work to do all the tabulating, so this is a great resource that pulls a great deal together.

  • Lynn says:

    I can’t help but think that editors who decide to publish literary fiction are aware that a male writer is more likely to garner awards than a female writer. If one publishes literary fiction, one needs awards to sell books. Hence I wager that the bias for male writers in the literary category begins before publication and puts female writers at disadvantage from the getgo.

    • Cate Marvin says:

      I’ve got to agree. And those awards are very significant toward furthering an author’s career (as we shall see in future summations provided by “The Count,” when we roll out further data). One could easily say, “Oh, who cares about these awards?” Awards don’t just result in “fame” or “money”– they directly affect the output (quality and quantity) of any writer . . . recognition means more grants, more time to write. More time to write . . . that’s the one thing all ambitious writers need in order to tirelessly follow the true course of their respective literary visions.

  • Danyell Giggey says:

    This is wonderful blog. I love it.

  • Earl Chinni says:

    Thanks for this interesting information.

  • Andy Wenthold says:

    This is a good post.

  • Zahnersatz says:

    Hello, i´m beginning with rss subscriptions. Now i can stay current with your site and especially the topic “Best of 2009″ and “Historical Count” Vida now, really a neat feature. Thanks, Zahnersatz

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