In 2018, this publisher will only release books by women. Here's why.

After attending a panel discussion on 'The Crisis of American Fiction,' in which an all-male panel discussed only male authors for an entire hour, author Kamila Shamsie began to research the dearth of women in publishing and literary fiction.

Stefan Wermuth/Reuters
Author Kamila Shamsie poses with her novel 'A God In Every Stone' ahead of the 2015 Bailey's Women's Prize for Fiction in London.

Will 2018 be the Year of Publishing Women?

If Pakistani-British novelist Kamila Shamsie has her way, female writers will get some long overdue attention in the literary world with a radical new movement.

After attending a panel discussion on "The Crisis of American Fiction," in which an all-male panel discussed only male authors for an entire hour, Shamsie began to research the dearth of women in publishing and literary fiction.

In 2014, only 27 percent of authors represented in The Times Literary Supplement and 29 percent represented in The Nation were women, according to the annual VIDA count, an effort to shed light on gender inequity in the Western literary world.

What's more, just under 40 percent of books submitted to the Booker prize over the past five years were by women, Shamsie found through research. And, as novelist Nicola Griffith has pointed out, far more prize-winning novels have male than female protagonists.

"Like any effective system of power – and patriarchy is, over time and space, the world’s most effective system of power – the means of keeping the power structure intact is complex," Shamsie wrote in a "provocation" in the UK's Guardian.

"The problem with the Booker Prize could stem from the fact that its past judges have been predominately male, but the issue runs deeper. Female judge Sarah Churchwell explained last year of the male-dominated longlist that she simply read what she was sent, and most submissions were written by men," Shamsie wrote. "The picture that starts to emerge from these statistics is one of judges who judge without gender bias but are hamstrung by publishers who submit with a strong tilt towards books by men."

Her radical solution? Declare 2018 the Year of Publishing Women.

That's right, Shamsie is calling for publishers to boycott or put off books by male authors for one year and focus only on women writers.

"The knock-on effect of a Year of Publishing Women would be evident in review pages and blogs, in bookshop windows and front-of-store displays, in literature festival lineups, in prize submissions," she writes.

While her provocation was met with mixed response, one small publishing house has taken up her challenge.

The publishing house And Other Stories, which releases about 10 titles annually, has said it will release only titles by women in 2018.

“By taking on the challenge we will expose our systems and the paths of recommendation and investigation that brings books to us, and we will end up becoming a kind of small-scale model for a much bigger inquiry about why women’s writing is consistently sidelined or secondary, the poor cousin rather than the equal of men’s writing,” Sophie Lewis, a senior editor at And Other Stories, told the Guardian.

So far, no other publishing houses have signaled that they will follow suit, but similar projects have been launched in recent years to highlight women writers.

2014 was declared the Year of Reading Women, The New York Times has steadily upped its coverage of women, and, as the Huffington Post points out, publishing project Dorothy is dedicated to publishing books by women, and subscription service Emily Books recommends mostly titles by women.

Whether or not The Year of Publishing Women will catch on, and make a difference for women writers, remains to be seen.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to

QR Code to In 2018, this publisher will only release books by women. Here's why.
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today