bye bye LRB

Yesterday I cancelled my subscription to the London Review of Books. I’d been considering this for a while, ever since For Books’ Sake raised the issue of the completely skewed gender imbalance in the LRB’s pages, both in terms of the percentage of books by men reviewed compared to books by women (74% male authors in 2012), and the gender of reviewers (78% men). I followed a bit of the to-and-not-much-fro on Twitter, which is summarised here. But, you know, I’m quite a loyal person. Despite myself, I form brand attachments. I always enjoyed Jenny Diski‘s acerbic pieces, and hadn’t I discovered Elif Batuman through the LRB? On the other hand, every fortnight a new issue of the LRB dropped through my letterbox with the same old gender imbalance starkly evident. It bothered me, and in particular it bothered me that the LRB didn’t appear willing to engage with those who’d raised the issue. And then this week I read Isabel Roger’s blog post about the recent item on Radio 4’s Open Book, discussing women and book reviews, and the extraordinarily defensive and complacent statement that the LRB provided, instead of taking part in the studio discussion. Of course there are far more important issues affecting women around the world than the proportion of books by women reviewed in the LRB or the number of women reviewers. But that’s the LRB’s sphere, reviewing books, and I really can’t see how it is so difficult to take steps to improve the gender balance of their reviews. So I’ve had enough. I’ve cancelled my subscription. I don’t need a fortnightly, not-so-subtle reminder that male authors, men’s voices, dominate. i have a pile of books to read.

a pile of books

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