This year’s Dolman travel writing book prize has longlisted 8 men and 2 women. The previous year the shortlist was 6 men and 1 woman. The Walter Scott prize for historical fiction has shortlisted 5 men and 1 woman this year. There were double that number of women on the shortlist last year: 2. One of them, Hilary Mantel, won. The Independent Foreign Fiction Prize has returned a shortlist of 5 men and 1 woman every single year for the last five years. In 2006 it went totally mad and had 2 women and 4 men! Since 2001, the IMPAC prize has had 11 men winners and 0 women. The Samuel Johnson prize has a 2011 longlist of 15 books by men, 1 co-authored by a mixed pair and 2 books by women. In the previous 12 years it has had shortlists of 5 men and just 1 woman 7 times. In 2009 it was 6 men and no women. It has been 4 men and 2 women three times. In 2003 they had their year of insanity: 3 men, 3 women. The Ondaatje Prize has honoured 7 men and 1 woman. The Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize for comic literature has been awarded to 10 men and 1 woman. The David Cohen prize has honoured 7 men, 2 women and one joint win. Its 1993 winner was V S Naipaul, who this week at Hay expressed his derision for women writers, who are “unequal” to him, writing “tosh” with our “narrow view of the world.”
It's strange because when men themselves are called upon to give their Top Tens, their mentions, their to-read must-haves, their shortlists, their ranks of genius and tips for the top - and again, typically, the media calls upon them 10 times more often than it calls upon women - they give the power and opportunities to other men, not women. Elle magazine asked literary liar James Frey to give his top 8 favourite reads: he mentioned 8 men and 0 women. Vogue asked Peter Carey to give his top 7 novels about servants and masters when his last novel came out: 7 men, 0 women. Both these men, knowing that these magazines have a virtually all-female readership, used this woman-given moment promote their own books and to help as many other men as they possibly could, to make their position absolutely clear. If they disdained the world of women they should have refused to feature in these magazines. Instead, they took the perk and then threw the magazines' support straight back in women's faces.