Bestselling author Marian Keyes has revealed that she only reads books written by women because men’s lives are ‘so limited’.
The 56-year-old writer, who has sold more than 33 million copies of her often female-focused novels worldwide, said that she gravitates towards literature written by women and is fed up with them being treated as second class.
‘I only read women. I know that men write books. But their lives are so limited. It’s such a small and narrow experience,’ the prolific Irish author said during an event at the Southbank Centre to promote her latest novel, Grown Ups.
‘Their literature just really can’t match anything written by a woman. I just think ‘**** off’.
‘I’m tired of women being treated as second-class writers. If a man is really, really good and I can believe the glowing reviews have any basis in fact, then I will read the occasional one but not really, no, not when there’s so many fabulous women.’
Female authors including the Bronte sisters, Mary Ann Evans – George Eliot – and even J K Rowling have published novels under male noms de plume in a bid to be taken seriously.
However, in recent years the world’s leading literary awards have been dominated by women, with last year’s Booker Prize being jointly won by Margaret Atwood and Bernardine Evaristo.
The 2018 Booker – the UK’s most prestigious literary award – was won by Anna Burns for her novel Milkman, set during the Troubles in Northern Ireland.
In the US, the nominations for the National Book Critics Circle were female-heavy when they were announced last month.
Three of the five nominees in the fiction category are women, as are four of the five up for the autobiography award. However, Miss Keyes says that the publishing industry can still be sexist, as work by male writers is deemed more important.
‘If something is done by a man, it’s automatically more interesting, it carries more weight,’ she said on Elizabeth Day’s How To Fail podcast.
‘If a man writes a book about emotions, he’s writing about the human condition.
‘If a woman writes a book with emotions, she’s writing a fluffy soap opera. But the subject matter is identical.
‘But men cannot be seen as writers of fluffy soap. Obviously, it has to be far more meaningful. A universal, searing exploration of the human condition… And it’s just irritating.’
A 2014 survey by book review website Goodreads found that the majority of readers tend to gravitate towards books that have been written by their own sex.
According to the data, 90 per cent of the books read by men that year had been written by men, while 45 of the 50 most popular books read by women were written by women.
In 2013 the Guardian discovered a huge gender imbalance in the reviewing of books, with only 8.7 per cent of the titles rated in the London Review of Books that year having been written by women.