How do you write an accurate memoir without perpetuating stereotypes? Jesmyn Ward struggled with this when writing about absent black fathers and husbands in her book Men We Reaped. “I also had to figure out how much of the truth do I tell, how do I make the truth as balanced as I possibly can? How do I make these people as complicated and as human and as unique and as multifaceted as I possibly can? For me, that was the way I attempted to counteract some of that criticism,” she told The Rumpus.
VIDA, an organization that promotes gender parity in the literary arts, has tallied up the 2011 bylines and book reviews from some of the bigger magazines . Granta was the only publication to achieve parity, but they did have an issue devoted entirely to feminism, so that may be skewing the numbers. The Atlantic, The London Review of Books, and Harper’s are not making the cut. While institutionalized misogyny in any profession presents a problem, gender quotas are probably not the answer.
New this week is Julian Barnes’ new collection of stories, Pulse. We also have new novels from Geraldine Brooks (Caleb’s Crossing) and Jean Thompson (The Day We Left Home). There’s also a new collection available from Nobel laureate J.M.G. Le Clezio (Mondo and Other Stories). And new in paperback: Millions Hall of Famer Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart and The Pregnant Widow by Martin Amis.