‘Pretend to be a man’. That is the advice that aspiring female author, Kasey Edwards received from a literary agent. Edwards refused to change her name. ‘Well at least you’re pretty. That should help with media.’ responded the literary agent.
Yesterday Kasey Edwards told her story in an article published on the Fairfax Daily Life website. She also wrote about a group of women and men who participated in an online book reading and reviewing challenge, The Australian Women Writers’ Challenge.
Over the last year I have written about the fact that women writers don’t receive anywhere near as many reviews as men in major media outlets. A number of readers including me, realised that for an unknown reason we were not reading anywhere near as many books written by women as men. I decided to bring balance back into my reading by signing up for the Australian Women Writers’ Challenge.
Then I decided to go a step further and volunteered to be an editor for this year’s challenge looking after the area of histories, biographies and memoirs. Today I posted an overview of the histories, biographies and memoirs that were reviewed by challenge participants in 2012. It gives an interesting insight into the reading habits of Challenge participants as well as the wonderful books written by Australian women writers that I would not have been aware of if not for the Challenge. If you want some ideas about what histories you could read you could read the overview, browse through the complete list of histories reviewed for the Challenge in 2012 or check out the list of histories written by women that I compiled last year.
The Australian Women Writers’ Challenge was more successful than Elizabeth Lhuede had dreamed of when she started the Challenge a year ago. This year it is back and we are looking forward to your contributions. While a lot of books were reviewed I know that many great books published last year missed out on a review. It would be great to see more reviews of histories written by Aboriginal authors, and I would love to see some family histories and local histories reviewed. Perhaps you would like to join me in reviewing some history of science books? Even if you feel that you read the kind of books everyone else reads we still would appreciate your review. Each person responds to a book in a different way so it is helpful to be able to read a number of reviews of the same book.
I will be writing regular posts about histories, biographies and memoirs on the Australian Women Writers’ Challenge website this year, bringing attention to reviews that have been written, new books published, topics and themes we could read more about, and books that have been shortlisted for awards. I’m looking forward to it and hope you will enjoy history on the Australian Women Writers Challenge as well!