After Publishers Weekly’s 2009 Top Ten list included 0 women and their top 100 books included only 29 women and 71 men, the editors have declared this year that “the women are back!”   When so many amazing books appeared in 2009 by the likes of Margaret Atwood, A.S. Byatt, Rita Dove, Mavis Gallant, Heather McHugh, Lorrie Moore, Alice Munro and Alicia Ostriker, VIDA continues to wonder, “Where did the women go?” and “Why weren’t any of their books worthy of a slot in last year’s top 10?”

Though we don’t concede that we ever went away, we’re quite pleased to see that women authors “are back” in the top 10 PW picks, but what has changed about the criteria? This is no tongue-in-cheek query nor are we simply interrogating the past.  In light of the 2010 picks, we feel compelled to ask what it was about those 2009 books, as opposed to the ones that did rate top 10 status, that eliminated them during the annual “slugfest.”  Was there more conventional “domestic” subject matter in last year’s books?  Did the female authors attend less serious content or write in a less-than-exciting style than those on the top ten list?   If so, how did the 5 women whose books made the top 10 list this year meet those criteria?  In short:  what has changed and brought the women back, PW?


5 Men / 5 Women

PUBLISHERS WEEKLY’S “100 BEST BOOKS OF 2010″ (Total Books = 101)

Fiction — 15 Men / 6 Women

Nonfiction — 15 Men ; 8 Women

Poetry —  3 Men / 2 Women

Mystery — 5 Men / 1 Woman

Romance — 0 Men / 5 Women

Sci-Fi / Fantasy / Horror — 1 Man / 4 Women

Comics — 6 Men / 1 Woman ; 1 book co-authored by a Man and Women; 2 books co-edited by two men

Religion — 6 Men / 2 Women;  1 book co-authored by two Men;  1 book co-authored by a Man and a Woman

Lifestyle — 1 Man / 4 Women;  1 book co-authored by 3 Men