Sisterhood Blog

Nine Observations on Jennifer Weiner

By Sarah Seltzer

Getty Images
Jennifer Weiner

We at the Sisterhood have been following Jennifer Weiner’s crusade for literary gender parity for years. Finally, the witty (Jewish) Twitter maven and fiction writer has gotten her own New Yorker profile by Rebecca Mead, complete with childhood description, literary analysis, a home visit and the immortal phrase “garotted with a pair of Spanx.”

What follows are a few connected meditations from someone who has been following the gender and highbrow/lowbrow literary debate with my lips pursed in concentration for years.

Read more


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: gender, Rebecca Mead, Jewish, Jennifer Weiner

Literary Gender Wars Rage On

By Sarah Seltzer

Last year, I spent a lot of time writing about the literary feud known as “Franzenfreude,” which occurred when the plaudits received for Jonathan Franzen’s novel “Freedom” inspired a big conversation about gender, genre and the marketing, reviewing and treatment of books in the media.

Here’s a brief history of the ongoing conversation.

Jennifer Weiner and Jodi Picoult spoke up and complained about the undue love “white male literary darlings” like Franzen and Jeffrey Eugenides receive; Picoult said commercial fiction was ignored, while Weiner argued that commercial fiction by men was given more credence than that by women. Several literary authors responded, grumbling about these perennial bestsellers grumbling about them, but then the VIDA numbers came out, which surveyed bylines by gender, revealing a stark gender problem in big literary establishments. Meg Wolitzer, whose novel “The Wife” satirically skewered “white male literary darlings” years ago, weighed in this spring with a piece called “The Second Shelf,” in which she complained that literary writers face gender bias, too. She noted that Eugenides’ lauded effort “The Marriage Plot,” which concerns the romantic and intellectual lives of some Brown students in the ‘80s, would have had a much different color, and presentation, were its author a she.

Now we’re up to date, and Eugenides himself continued the fray, throwing down against Picoult in a recent interview with Salon as “The Marriage Plot” comes out in paperback.

Towards the end of their interview, Salon’s David Dayen proffers Wolitzer’s question about whether “The Marriage Plot” would have had a pink or frilly cover if he had been a woman. Eugenides replies that he’d read Wolitzer’s piece and thought she might have a point. Maybe.

Read more


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: the marriage plot, sisterhood, jonathan franzen, jodi picoult, jennifer weiner, jeffrey eugenides, freedom

'Scribbling Women' Get Less Respect, More Pay

By Elissa Strauss

jenniferweiner.com
Jennifer Weiner

Female novelists might not be getting the respect they deserve, but they sure can get rich trying. This, in short, is novelist (and, disclaimer, my friend) Teddy Wayne’s response to Jennifer Weiner’s recent post about the New York Times’ persistent bias towards male novelists — an issue that The Sisterhood has been following.

Weiner found that while the Times showed some improvement in 2011, women still got only 41% of all reviews, and were far less likely to get profiled in addition to getting reviewed.

Wayne acknowledged the preference among critics for male authors, but points out that, apart from the “literary 1%,” it is much harder for male novelists to make a living than female ones.

He writes:

For the majority of male literary authors — excluding the upper echelon of [Jonathan] Franzen, Jeffrey Eugenides, Don DeLillo and their ilk, plus a few younger writers like Chad Harbach who have scored much-ballyhooed advances — it’s actually harder than it is for women to carve out a financially stable writing career.

Read more


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Teddy Wayne, Literature, Jennifer Weiner

On Jonathan Franzen, the Times' Book Review, and Why Women's Fiction Gets Short Shrift

By Sarah Seltzer

Jonathan Franzen’s new novel, “Freedom,” arrives this week with considerable fanfare, but also a little bit of backlash. Although the author is not a Jew, one of his characters is, and he has a place in the cool crowd of literary writers than includes many Jewish writers such as Michael Chabon, Jonathan Safran-Foer and more recently, Gary Shteyngart.

But the glowing reviews and attention the book garnered also provoked a little bit of anger, which Jewish writers have weighed in on both sides. It began when bestselling author Jodi Picoult criticized The New York Times Book Review for its undue attention to the aforementioned group of writers to the exclusion of more mainstream, popular titles — many of them written by women. She asks:

How else can the Times explain the fact that white male authors ROUTINELY are assigned reviews in both the Sunday review section AND the daily book review section (often both raves) “while so many other writers go unnoticed by their critics?”

Read more


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Jonathan Franzen, Jodi Picolt, Jennifer Weiner

Our Rack: Cooking for Picasso; Mother-Nanny Relations

By Elissa Strauss

What’s on ‘Our Rack’:

NONFICTION



“97 Orchard: An Edible History of Five Immigrant Families in One New York Tenement” (Smithsonian) by Jane Ziegelman looks at the eating habits of five immigrant families living in New York’s Lower East Side between 1863 and 1935. Relying on census date, cookbooks from the era and newspaper clippings, Ziegelman chronicles the lives of the families — who are Irish, Italian, German, Russian Jews and German Jews — and how their respective cuisines evolved in their new homeland.


Harper Perennial has put out a new edition of “The Alice B. Toklas Cookbook,” which was first issued in 1954. Toklas, most famously the companion of Gertrude Stein, wrote this cookbook in a casual narrative style and includes sections like “Dishes for Artists” and “Food in French Homes.” Stein and Toklas were part of France’s vibrant expat scene, which provided Toklas a chance to cook for friends such as Ernest Hemmingway, Pablo Picasso and Thornton Wilder.


In “After the Girls Club: How Teenaged Holocaust Survivors Built New Lives in America” (Lexington Books), women’s studies professor Carole Bell Ford has pieced together the life stories of a small group of orphaned teenagers who relocated to Brooklyn after surviving the Holocaust.


Read more


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Sloane Crosley, Our Rack, Mona Simpson, Jennifer Weiner, Jane Ziegelman, Ayelet Waldman, Allegra Goodman, Alice B. Toklas




Find us on Facebook!
  • Are Michelangelo's paintings anti-Semitic? Meet the Jews of the Sistine Chapel: http://jd.fo/i4UDl
  • What does the Israel-Hamas war look like through Haredi eyes?
  • Was Israel really shocked to find there are networks of tunnels under Gaza?
  • “Going to Berlin, I had a sense of something waiting there for me. I was searching for something and felt I could unlock it by walking the streets where my grandfather walked and where my father grew up.”
  • How can 3 contradictory theories of Yiddish co-exist? Share this with Yiddish lovers!
  • "We must answer truthfully: Has a drop of all this bloodshed really helped bring us to a better place?”
  • "There are two roads. We have repeatedly taken the one more traveled, and that has made all the difference." Dahlia Scheindlin looks at the roots of Israel's conflict with Gaza.
  • Shalom, Cooperstown! Cooperstown Jewish mayor Jeff Katz and Jeff Idelson, director of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, work together to oversee induction weekend.
  • A boost for morale, if not morals.
  • Mixed marriages in Israel are tough in times of peace. So, how do you maintain a family bubble in the midst of war? http://jd.fo/f4VeG
  • Despite the escalating violence in Israel, more and more Jews are leaving their homes in Alaska to make aliyah: http://jd.fo/g4SIa
  • The Workmen's Circle is hosting New York’s first Jewish street fair on Sunday. Bring on the nouveau deli!
  • Novelist Sayed Kashua finds it hard to write about the heartbreak of Gaza from the plush confines of Debra Winger's Manhattan pad. Tough to argue with that, whichever side of the conflict you are on.
  • "I’ve never bought illegal drugs, but I imagine a small-time drug deal to feel a bit like buying hummus underground in Brooklyn."
  • We try to show things that get less exposed to the public here. We don’t look to document things that are nice or that people would like. We don’t try to show this place as a beautiful place.”
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.