This is my fourth year of undertaking a challenge to read and review more books by Australian women writers. The initiative was established in 2012 Elizabeth Lhuede, who wanted to redress the gender bias in reviewing.
I’m the diversity editor at AWW, and throughout the year I arranged guest posts from women writers of ethnic heritage, including Queenie Chan, Marisa Wikramanayake and Maxine Beneba Clarke, as well as lesbian/queer writers Inga Simpson, Tricia Dearborn, Lee Winter and Francesca Rendle-Short.
I was also very happy that Gayle Kennedy, an Aboriginal woman writer whom I met at an artists with disability conference last year, wrote a guest post for us during NAIDOC week, while Bec Kavanagh also write a guest post on the importance of reading diverse texts, particularly for younger readers.
I presented on the AWW challenge and writing vernacular criticism at the annual Association for the Study of Australian Literature in Wollongong in July. I really enjoy taking part in the challenge because I’m interested in women’s writing and diversity, and in promoting these subjects. It also helps me to keep up to date with what’s being published, and I like interacting with the other volunteers. I get good reading suggestions from Sue T of Whispering Gums; Marisa Wikramanayake put together a series of conversations with writers throughout the year; Annabel Smith interviewed more writers, and it’s been great to watch Elizabeth’s writing career start to take off. It’s just so lovely to be part of the AWW community.
I met my challenge of reading more than 20 books (I read 38) and reviewing 10 of these. The books that I reviewed, however, were disappointingly very un-diverse. Here’s my list:
I mostly chose to review these books because I needed to think them through for books or papers that I’m working on, which are about animals, carers, and climate change. Others, such as Remotely Fashionable or The Women’s Pages I reviewed because I loved them.
I’m sticking to my challenge level for 2016 (read at least 20, review 10), as it’s a struggle to find time to review books. However I’m going to make a concerted effort next year to review more works by Indigenous authors, and I’m hoping to arrange more guest posts by Indigenous authors throughout the year. I’m also going to arrange a focus on writers with disability, and another on writers of migrant background.
Another busy year ahead! In the meantime I’m signing off, packing my bags & heading to Thailand for two weeks of sun, water, cocktails & burning through the 25+ books on my ereader. Glorious!