The gender divide, rinse and repeat

Elaine Viets – who has now become an official member of the Lipstick Chronicles – blogs about her irritation with the ITW’s list of award nominations and the fact that for all three major categories, the shortlists are all-male:

It’s tough to define an award-winning thriller, but the new International Thriller Writers has succeeded:

It’s anything written by a man.

That’s not what it says on the ITW Website. That tells us,

“Thrillers provide a rich literary feast – the legal thriller, the spy

thriller, the action-adventure thriller, the medical thriller, the

police thriller, the romantic thriller, the historical thriller, the

political thriller, the religious thriller, the high-tech thriller, the

supernatural thriller. The list goes on and on, with new variations

being invented constantly. This openness to creation and expansion is

one of the field’s characteristics.”

Unfortunately, the plums at this literary feast are served to men

only. For the first ITW Thriller Awards, every single novel nominee is

a man.

Not surprisingly, the comments are lively and fierce but I tend to agree with what Donna Moore said:

When it comes down to it, awards that are based on a judging panel come

down to the preferences of that handful of judges. Has there ever been

a whole shortlist of nominations for ANY category in ANY award that I

have ever agreed with? Not that I can think of. There is no “best book

of the year”. You ask 10 people what the best crime fiction book of

2005 was and you might get 10 different answers – and you might agree

with none of them.

Sure, on the surface it probably doesn’t look great, but it wasn’t like the judging commitees didn’t include women More to the point is that many mystery and suspense novels written by women aren’t what I would classify as thrillers. But something tells me that’s about to change over the course of the next couple of years, as more women – be they first timers or veterans – are trying their hand at thrillers.

In the end, it’s a taste issue. And next year’s crop of judges will have decidedly different taste.