Do we still need the Women's Prize?

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  • Lucy Cruickshanks 1 year ago

    This month, Scott read the six books on the shortlist for the Women's Prize. Some he enjoyed and some he loathed, but it got us thinking about whether the Women's Prize is still relevant, or whether women are no longer at a disadvantage in books and publishing, and who the books it picks are really for.

    What do you think? We'd love to know!

  • Lucy Cruickshanks 1 year ago

    Here's the link to our video about it, as well as Scott's reviews and predictions (Get a little bit ranty... watch out!) https://youtu.be/4qhldR6QA7I

  • Frankie 1 year ago

    I never pay any attention to prizes and neither does anyone I know. I know that my best authors would never be on those lists but that doesn't make them bad books. I read far more books written by women but that's not a deliberate choice - it just happens that way. I don't think about it and I don't think may people care when they choose books. So I don't think it's just the women's prize that is out of touch but prizes in general.

  • Sam 1 year ago

    I don't follow literary prizes from the pov of wanting to read all of the entries, but I am interested in the short-listed selections of various prizes as I think they are a useful barometer to the changing face and concepts currently found in fiction in general. I tend to read a lot of translated (European) fiction, so I usually pay a lot of attention to the Man Booker International prize, as there are usually some excellent entries to found here and I think translated fiction deserves supporting (for both the authors and translators).

    As to the Women's Prize itself, whatever one may think of the selections, if the organisers are achieving the goal of bringing female authors and their works to a wider audience then surely this must be a good thing. 

    Whether the books put forward for prizes should be accessible to all I'm not sure that I 100% agree with this. I don't mean this in an elitist way but purely because accessability is in the mind of the reader and while I enjoy reading for enjoyment and I also enjoy books that challenge me and that make me work to understand them. I still think there is a place for experimental fiction and fiction that tries to move us away from the basic plot structures / narratives that we all take for granted. Whether it is the place of literary prizes to champion these types of books, I'm not sure, but if they don't - then who will?

  • Lucy Cruickshanks 1 year ago

    Hey @Frankie. I think you have a point. I'm not sure many readers pay much attention to them anymore, especially younger people. I feel like the publishers and booksellers pay the most attention! But because the books do then get more coverge and more prominence with the retailers, they do increases sales as a result, just because people are more aware of them. That said, I think @Sam has an important point too. The term accessibility is such a broad and vague term. We should have perhaps used a clearer one. I certainly don't mean that books should never be challenging or experimental. I think it's really important that these books exist and that we keep pushing the boundaries. I do think, however, that books are at a tricky time and have so much competition for people's attention, that part of the role of prizes is to help introduce people to the joys of books and writers, and if prizes choose books that are incredibly niche for whatever reason, that's not going to help promote reading to a wider audience. That said, our main beef here was about the diversity of the judges, I think, and the prize delivering what it sets out to do. The answer is perhaps more prizes, with different and clearer objectives??? I don't know!

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