Should Only Women Publish Books In 2018?

by Crystal Paul

How epic would it be if book publishers published only women for an entire year? Only women. As in, zero books by men... for a whole freaking year! Well, that’s exactly what London-based author Kamila Shamsie proposes — a year of publishing only women. In an op-ed in The Guardian, Shamsie, whose novels have won attention and awards in both her native Pakistan and in the U.K., offers up this radical idea as a solution, or at least a reaction, to the issue of gender bias in so many different areas of literature, from publishing to awards to reviews.

And she’s dead serious. She even proposed a specific year. Shamsie suggests 2018 as the “Year of Publishing Women.” 2018 would be the 100th anniversary of the Representation of the People Act 1918, which allowed (a subset of) women to vote for the first time in the U.K. Citing the multitude of studies that have shown significant bias against women authors, Shamsie writes that it is “time for everyone, male and female, to sign up to a concerted campaign to redress the inequality.”

Shamsie’s proposal might seem unrealistic, but she’s putting it out there in earnest, even if only to breathe life back into the conservation of women in literature. Even in the title of her piece in The Guardian she calls the proposal “a provocation,” and on Twitter she put forth the idea as a “national conversation” with the hashtag “#NatlCov.”

But don’t write the idea off yet. Shamsie is also pitching the idea as a real possibility, and she seems confident that the men and women of the book industry would be on board with it. “Many male writers would, I’m sure, back the campaign and refuse to submit their books for publication in the given year, while also taking an active part by reading, reviewing and recommending the books that were published,” writes Shamsie.

And indeed, in just the few hours that the article has been online, Shamsie’s idea is already winning support from readers and writers, both men and women, like author Nikesh Shukla, who was the first male author to speak up. And he’s all about giving the finger to the “status quo”:

Shamsie’s idea is radical, but, in keeping with Chimamada Ngozi Adichie’s call for women and girls to stop worrying about being likable, Shamsie’s ready to turn down all that nice and turn up the real talk:

We must learn from the suffragettes that it’s not always necessary or helpful to be polite about our campaigns. If some publishing houses refused to sign up, then it would be for the literary pages and booksellers and bloggers and festivals to say they wouldn’t be able to give space to the male writers who were being published that year.

Peek at her full op-ed, and I guarantee Shamsie’s bold call for women authors is gonna have you feelin' like…

Stay boss, Shamsie.