Fiction gender wars

In a recent editorial piece, V.S Naipul, an author well-known for causing controversy, trashed female authors by categorically stating that he considers women's writing unequal to his own because of our supposed "sentimental and narrow-minded view of the world."

While I vehemently disagree with his archaic opinion, he certainly got me thinking about the way we as readers choose and perceive books based on the gender of the author.

Personally, I don't mind whose voice it is that I'm reading.

As a lover of books (particular fiction), my main concern is that the book is an engaging, well-written piece of literature with an excellent storyline and diverse, colourful characters whose fictional journeys are worth sacrificing a whole night's sleep for.

I've read some great fiction written by men who capture the voices of their female characters with an insight that goes beyond understanding the basic psychological make-up of women.

Not just that, some of them just write great fiction period.

Some of my favourite male fiction writers include Anthony Capella (and is his writing is simply delicious or what?), Keith Donohue and Jostein Gaarder.

By the same token,  I've got a deep love for authors like Isabel Allende, A.S Byatt and Laura Esquivel (Like Water for Chocolate is still one of my favourite books to this day).

But even though I've got a deep appreciation for some of these authors and the (mostly) strong female heroines they create, the bottom line is that when I choose books, I don't base my choice based on the fact that it was written by a specific gender.

Do you prefer fiction written by women or fiction written by men? Does it matter? And are you aware of the different voices that you're reading?

I've asked our readers and here's what a few of them had to say
Helen:
"My love is for books. For the stories that unfold between the front and back covers. For the interesting, colourful, complicated people I encounter along the way. For the pounding heartbeats and the laugh-out-loud moments. As to who is the better author I say does it really matter? Not to me"

Cheryl:
"I am a bit of a murder mystery crime junkie and find both the male and female authors are fantastic – Jonathan and Faye Kellerman, John Grisham, Patricia Cornwall, Dan Brown, Kathy Reichs.

There’s nothing to separate them in my opinion.  As long as the suspense is there and the characters are believable bring them on!"

Helen
"I remember being so surprised that "Memoirs of a Geisha" was written by a man. It was so beautifully written and completely believable - I think he portrayed her and expressed her so well that I kept going back to the bio to make sure he was a man and not a woman!

I have read great thrillers by men and women (Stieg Larsson vs Tess Gerritsen), great Travel auto-bios by both (Driving over Lemons vs Under the Tuscan Sun - can't remember the author's names). I guess my absolute favorites seem to have been done by women - Joanne Harris, Elizabeth Gilbert, Laura Esquival but I am not particularly choosy when buying books.

And finally, Barbara sums it up in one sentence:
A good brain presents good literature - finish and klaar!

I couldn't agree more. 

Have you read a book that was written by a male/female author that really surprised you? Tell us about it below, or better, send us a review and we'll feature it on our site.

 
We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
Voting Booth
What part of your lifestyle are you most conscious about when it comes to sustainability and ethical consumption?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
Clothing and accessories
13% - 44 votes
Skincare products and makeup
14% - 48 votes
Food and home
73% - 246 votes
Vote