If you remember, chick lit authors and loud Twitter presences Jennifer Weiner and Jodi Picoult were really pissed earlier this year with all the press Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom was getting when it came out. They claimed that the book was being pushed to a higher level of greatness than it deserved, all because he was a man and the NYT Book Review was a “Boys Club”. Google #FRANZENFREUDE or click the link above for more info– they may have had a point. So because of this, many women writers were shooting for Egan’s A Visit From the Goon Squad to be the book of the year instead. And now that Goon Squad has won the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, all of the literary feminists of the world should be happy, but instead they’re pissed because in an interview with the Wall Street Journal hours after winning the Pulitzer, Egan inadvertently dissed CHICK LIT- NOOOOOOOOOO!
Here is the quote that’s causing feminist backlash all over the internets:
WSJ: Over the past year, there’s been a debate about female and male writers and how they come off in the press. Franzen made clear that “Freedom” was going to be important,while others say that Allegra Goodman was too quiet about “The Cookbook Collector.” Do you think female writers have to start proclaiming, “OK, my book is going to be the book of the century”?
JE: Anyone can say anything, that’s easy. My focus is less on the need for women to trumpet their own achievements than to shoot high and achieve a lot. What I want to see is young, ambitious writers. And there are tons of them. Look at “The Tiger’s Wife.” There was that scandal with the Harvard student who was found to have plagiarized. But she had plagiarized very derivative, banal stuff. This is your big first move? These are your models? I’m not saying you should say you’ve never done anything good, but I don’t go around saying I’ve written the book of the century. My advice for young female writers would be to shoot high and not cower.
Jamie Beckman, a columnist at The Frisky, wrote an article shaming Egan for acting as if the problem here was the fact that Harvard student Kaavya Viswanathan was not that she plagiarized, but that she borrowed material from chick lit authors, implying that chick lit was “derivative” and “banal”. Beckman mentions that Egan is “one of her favorite authors of all time,” but now expresses doubt that she’ll ever recommend Egan’s work to anyone again.
Egan has yet to issue a statement apologizing or reiterating her claims.
My personal opinion: Whatever girl, you won a f$&#ing Pulitzer. And it wasn’t won by writing chick lit, sooooo.