Women's book prize judge says men avoid 'chick-lit' novels written by female authors

Mary Ann Sieghart said men need to “broaden their horizons” over literature written by women

Published

A women’s book judge has said men need to “broaden their horizons” and read more books written by female authors.

Mary Ann Sieghart, a judge of the Women’s Prize for Fiction award, also believes that males need to stop fearing “chick-lit”.

She added that if such books were written by male authors, men would happily read them.

When asked at the Women’s Prize for Fiction shortlist unveiling whether a prize soley for women was necessary Ms Sieghart said: “The more prizes, the better because authors need attention and so many great books get published which don’t get the attention they deserve.

Mary Ann Sieghart
Mary Ann Sieghart
Ms Sieghart has urged men to "broaden their horizons"
Ms Sieghart has urged men to "broaden their horizons"

“And yes, it’s true we no longer have Booker shortlists which are 100 percent male, which is why the prize was set up in the first place, and thank goodness for that.

“But we still have a situation where women read around 50-50 books by men and women, but for men the ratio is about 80-20. They will read four books by men for every one by a woman.”

The figures are from Nielsen, which provides data on book buying.

According to the Telegraph, she added: “I would like men to broaden their horizons. With this shortlist we can say to men: here are six utterly brilliant novels which you will enjoy as much as us.

“Obviously, (not) all men. But they have this weird idea that if it’s written by a woman, it’s not going to be aimed at them. I think novels written by women are aimed at all humanity.

“Men could learn a lot from broadening their horizons. They will enjoy their reading more.”

“Look at David Nicholls’ One Day. I hate the expression ‘chick-lit’ but if you’re going to label books by women ‘chick-lit’ then One Day is as much ‘chick-lit’ as anything.

“It’s a book about relationships, which would be labelled as ‘women’s fiction’ if the author was a woman. But it wasn’t labelled as that, and lots of men read it.”

The winner of the Women’s Prize for Fiction will be announced on June 15.