I’ve attended a few writers’ talks recently and enjoyed them greatly. It’s wonderful to hear a writer speak about their work in person and I always come home having learned something new and inspiring. I’ve also been surprised to learn a couple of hard truths, which have been difficult to swallow.
- Out of every ten young adult books in Australian bookstores, only one is written by an Australian author
The majority of books in Australian bookstores are by US or UK authors. While I enjoy international books just as much as anyone, (John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars is a huge favourite of mine) I find these numbers a little staggering. America produces a lot more content due to their large population, but I refuse to accept that we don’t have a talented base of Australian authors to at least makeup at least 50% of the market.
- Even the book industry is not immune from gender equity issues
Yes, it’s true. Women are less likely than their male counterparts to have their books reviewed in many prominent newspapers (I’m looking at you The Australian) and less likely to be nominated for awards.This makes it harder to get exposure and therefore be listed on national curriculum lists etc. I don’t need to explain why this is problematic.
Why are more women’s voices not being heard?
There are so many writers and aspiring writers out there with no shortage of talent. We need to be supporting our national writers, and artists of all sorts for that matter. It is essential to the growth and development of our Australian cultural identity, as varied and contrast as that may be.
Thankfully there is something you can do
You can support Australian writers and the national publishing industry by reading more widely from local authors. I’ve chosen to do this by only reading fiction novels by Australian authors for a year, the majority by female authors (with some male authors thrown in for good measure).
There is great local content being produced such as Megan Jacobson’s debut novel Yellow, and The Yearbook Committee by Sarah Ayoub. I’ve decided to throw in a classic with Picnic at Hanging Rock by Joan Lindsay and have tempting reads waiting on my shelf by Melina Marchetta and Will Kostakis. Will surely add to this as the year goes on.
I would love to see more people take a pledge to support Australian writers and gender diversity in literature. Will you?