Obviously, “women’s fiction” in the broadest sense would be any fictional piece written by a woman or for women. This is too broad a definition for me to adequately wrap my reading and writing around. I love books like AS Byatt’s Possession, Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid's Tale, and Jasper Fforde’s Thursday Next series as well as Austen, the Brontes, Eliot, Gaskell, Wharton, and Woolf. I don’t really read books that are packaged as “chick-lit” and romance novels aren’t my thing, unless we’re talking Lauren Willig’s Pink Carnation series, and besides, Becke and Melanie have the romance genre covered backward and forward.
So I guess my personal definition of “women’s fiction” is one that consists of literary fiction written by women; this is a guideline I use when creating the voting shortlist at “Literature by Women” and it seems to work fairly well. I don’t want to completely exclude male authors from a “women’s fiction” definition (cf. Jasper Fforde above) but it seems that some of the best female characters come from female authors (can you imagine Sethe from Beloved or Offred from The Handmaid’s Tale being created by a man? I can’t). It’s hard to define “women’s fiction”, particularly since we don’t define “men’s fiction”, without sounding like an egotistical, sexist snob.
However, that’s generally what I’ll be blogging here at Unabashedly Bookish – literary fiction by women.
Now that I’ve talked around myself and about myself and quibbled over whether I’m a snob it’s time for me to go off and read some more of The Poisonwood Bible (this month's scheduled read for "Literature by Women" ) and metaphorically bite my nails over next week’s post.
What about you? Do you make "women's fiction" a distinction? Or is it all bunk and you prefer just "fiction"?
Melissa W. has degrees in biology and epidemiology from the University of Iowa. She is a research assistant in hospital epidemiology, Barnes and Noble bookseller, dancer, knitter, blogger, and just happens to inhale books, too. She lives with two spoiled cats, Chaucer and Dante.