A little over a week ago, the rather fabulous Nicola Griffith posted some interesting statistics about gender and literary awards. In particular, she looked not just at the gender of award-winners, but the gender of the subjects of their books. As she writes:
When women win literary awards for fiction it’s usually for writing from a male perspective and/or about men. The more prestigious the award, the more likely the subject of the narrative will be male.
I thought I’d add some Australian data to the pool. So, herewith the first in what I hope will be short series of posts looking at the gender of protagonists/viewpoint characters in literary awards, and the genders of their authors. I’m starting with the Miles Franklin Literary Award, since discussion of the gender of the authors was part of what kicked off the conversation that resulted in the founding of the Stella Prize.
This pie chart shows the breakdown of the gender combination of author + viewpoint character for the winners of the Miles Franklin Literary Award between 1994 and 2014. The numbers are:
By women about women/girls: 2*
By women about men/boys: 0
By women about both: 5
By men about women/girls: 2
By men about men/boys: 10
By men about both: 3
By ‘about’ here I’ve looked at who are the POV characters: obviously all the books here include characters of both genders. I’ve included Astley’s Drylands in ‘women writing about women’, though I’m not sure it shouldn’t rightly be women writing about/from the perspective of both genders.
So, I’m working on which awards to do next. I’m thinking of the Aurealis Awards, or the Queensland (Premier’s) Literary Awards. Which Australian literary awards do you think we should ‘count’?