Friday, February 18, 2011

Booker Prize Winner and Pulitizer Prize - who makes the choice

I just finished Tinkers ( 2010 Pulitizer Prize for fiction) by Paul Harding while also in the midst of reading Vernon God Little (Man Booker Fiction Prize for 2004) by DBC Pierre. Certainly, I've had a schizophrenic reaction to these two books. I kinda like them both and at the same time am put off by both. Each is male dominated to a degree that ought perhaps to result in both having disclaimers printed on the covers: Women beware! This text is strongly male centric.

I'm suspicious that prize winners are chosen by a panel dominated by men. Upon doing some research I found the Pulitizer Board for 2009/2010 composed of 12 men and 5 women. Thus far I've been unable to find a list of the members of the nominating jury for the Man Booker fiction award in 2004, (Vernon God Little) but I'm betting we will find another group of literati composed primarily of males.

I'm not suggesting that either text is less than excellent. I am suggesting that both are misogynistic, an aspect of plot that gives me pause in their awards from so venerated literary competitions.

My Australian husband reminds me that a very popular television/movie series entitled Sex and the City has been equally daming of the role of men in modern urban society. He contends that were that show to present women in the same light as it displays men, there would be a massive outcry. Perhaps he is correct that only women respond with distaste when they find their sex displayed negatively in the mass media as even when it is represented by the Man Booker and the Pulitizer.

I have no problem with men writing about men in a way that denigrates women nor of women writing about women in a way that denigrates men. I do have a problem with major prizes being awarded to literature that is dominated by such an attitude towards the folks who make up the other half of the population.