The Australian Women Writers 2012 National Year of Reading Challenge sets out to actively promote the reading and reviewing of Australian women’s writing. It shouldn’t be necessary, but this year’s Miles Franklin shortlist without a single female author and the imbalance of women writers (18/48) in the National Year of Reading’s Our Story suggests that it is.
The idea is that you sign up for reading and reviewing books by Australian women writers during 2012. You can read in one or multiple genres, and you select the number of reviews you’d like to commit to. There’s genres listed there that I’m not particularly enamoured of (romance, crime, SF) so I’ll limit myself to fiction and nonfiction and aspire to be a Franklin-fantastic Dabbler (i.e. read 10 books and review four).
Gender bias in reading is so insidious. I would have thought that I already leaned towards female writers in my fiction reading, but when I count through my Australian literature reviews for 2011, I’ve reviewed nine male writers against eight female. I didn’t include Australian non-fiction largely because I knew that it would make the statistic look even worse! Given that I try to read the Miles Franklin shortlist each year, the male authors ticked up during the middle of the year and it was only a bout of female writing at the beginning of the year that brought some semblance of balance to my figures.
So here goes in 2012