In the literary world, fashionable controversies are made around the battle of sexes rather than the battle of words. A bunch of male authors aren’t shying from decrying their female counterparts and vice-a-versa to claim superiority over one another. While it might seem like a moment of pride for these individual mongers, in any sensible person’s opinion these acts are no more than mental vulgarity, a petty display of narrowness that sits in the psyche. Men of letters seem aggrieved, thoughtless and chasing meanness, maybe in the hope that the buzz created out of their cheapness will result into fat contracts with publishers.
The latest to spark such a row is a Toronto literature professor and Giller prize-longlisted author David Gilmour who in an interview said that he did not teach books written by women or Chinese authors, because he was only interested in “serious heterosexual guys”.
According to the Guardian newspaper, Gilmour shared his views with Shelf Esteem, a blog by Random House Canada, which offers “a weekly measure of the books on the shelves of writers, editors and other word lovers”.
It is, however, not understandable why authors like to court unnecessary controversies which will result in nothing but futile publicity. An author should better court controversies through the letters in the books, plots and characters, etc. This is not the first time we’ve seen authors making stark remarks to disregard each other on the scale of quality writing. In 2011, V S Naipaul, the winner of Nobel Prize in literature, spat something similar saying that “no woman writer is his literary match – not even Jane Austen.”
It is in everybody’s interest if these writers spend more time writing and speak through characters, save the judgement to the readers and critics.