#Readwomen2014: An Update

June 2, 2014 | By | 3 Replies More

By now you must have heard about #Readwomen2014, brainchild of author and illustrator Joanna Walsh. We asked Joanna for an update!

#Readwomen2014 display

#Readwomen2014 display

What’s happened to #readwomen2014 since it took twitter by storm?  Is it still going strong?

From strength to strength! The Twitter account has over 4000 followers, and I’ve been impressed by the number of organisations willing to take part – including bookshops and libraries worldwide who have sent me photos of their #readwomen2014 displays. There was a peak of interest around International Women’s Day, but I’m glad to say it hasn’t faded.

Toronto Library recently had a #readwomen2014 event, and I just chaired a celebration of French writer, Marguerite Duras’ centenary, at L’Institut Francais in London, with writers Deborah Levy, Olivia Laing, Zoe Pilger, and Suzanne Joinson. I’m currently editing an all-woman edition of Five Dials, the literary journal of the publisher, Hamish Hamilton.

As #readwomen2014 very much depends on what participants want to put in, I’d welcome suggestions, below or on Twitter @readwomen2014 or facebook  www.facebook.com/readwomen2014of where to go next.

What type of reactions have you had so far?

UGXMLAdbVOU3jrkprTNMowhLvRwFrqxm-m9tPEX47csOverwhelmingly positive, which might surprise some given the campaign’s base on Twitter – but I’ve always found Twitter a generally positive place, for all sorts of reasons. I guess it only makes the headlines when something outrageous happens.

Most people who’ve said they disagree with the campaign are usually mistaken about some aspect of it: there are people who’ve thought it advocates reading women exclusively (you can if you like, but it’s more about making informed decisions about what you read).

At the other extreme, a few people have thought it’s ‘against’ some aspects of the way women’s work has been published, including ‘pink covers’ which exasperates me: there’s absolutely nothing wrong with pink covers, only with a wider range of women’s writing than seems appropriate being published under them, see Lionel Shriver’s complaint

Have you discovered any women writers you didn’t know before?

I like the sound of Margarita Karapanou, and Jenny Offill – both strongly recommended to me via the @readwomen2014 Twitter account. I’m very happy that the Twitter feed seems to be working well as a place people can recommend and discuss women’s writing.

What are you reading currently?

Everything by Italian writer, Elena Ferrante. I would recommend her to anyone. Her writing is mercilessly precise and spare, and at the same time her novels are page-turners.

What are you working on yourself?

Single stories for a couple of anthologies, a short book for Bloomsbury an essay for Granta, other things… and the Five Dials issue which will be launched in July at the Port Eliot Festival.

Any #readwomen2014 suggestions? leave a comment below or on twitter @readwomen2014 or facebook  www.facebook.com/readwomen2014

Joanna Walsh  is a writer and illustrator. Her first book, London Walks!, visual essays about the city, was published by Tate in 2011, sold out in less than nine months and has been reprinted twice. Fractals, her collection of short stories, is published by 3:AM Press.

She has written for Granta, The London Review of Books, The Guardian, The White Review, The European Short Story Network, 3:AM Magazine, Narrative Magazine, Guernica and others.

Find out more about her on her website badaude.typepad.com
Follow her on twitter @badaude
Read about #readwomen2014 in the following articles:



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Category: Contemporary Women Writers, On Writing

Comments (3)

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  1. Alice says:

    It’s so heartening that the campaign has had a positive response on Twitter and in the media – and that it has made more people aware of just how great the disparity is between men and women as writers/reviewers! More power to you

  2. Bill Wolfe says:

    Good to hear that the campaign is making a difference. Shameless plug: my blog about literary fiction by women marks it’s one-year anniversary this month. Lots of reviews and interviews, plus guest posts by authors and giveaways. http://readherlikeanopenbook.wordpress.com

  3. Great to see this update . . . . One of the best books I’ve ever read re: women and publishing is ‘How to Suppress Women’s Writing’ by Joanna Russ, published in 1983; so much still rings true. A favorite bit of literary trivia from the book: a novel published in 1847 under a pseudonym was hailed as ‘powerful and original,’ . . . ‘the work of a promising, possibly great, new writer.’ When a second edition appeared in 1850, and the author’s true identity was revealed, one reviewer liked the author to ‘a little bird fluttering its wings against the bars of its cage.’ The author: Emily Bronte. The novel: ‘Wuthering Heights.’

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