Sexism in the Literary World

Tuesday October 25, 2016
07:00 pm

Tags: Event




In the literary world, as in broader society, gender inequality remains an ongoing problem, and the poor representation of women writers a contentious topic. Organizations such as VIDA highlight the imbalances in visibility between women and men in scores of online and print publications. Arguably, sexism and misogyny are central to this issue.


This event brought together novelists Bonnie Nadzam and Porochista Khakpour, social change advocate and journalist Kavita Das, and Amy King of VIDA, to discuss sexism and harassment in the publishing industry and writing programs, and what can, and should, be done to improve the representation of women writers. The Center’s director Noreen Tomassi moderated and contributed her insight.


Bonnie Nadzam has published fiction and essays in many journals and magazines, including Granta, Harper’s Magazine, Orion Magazine, The Iowa Review, Epoch, The Kenyon Review, and many others. Her first novel, Lamb, was the recipient of the Center for Fiction’s first novel award in 2011 and was longlisted for the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction. It has been translated into several languages and made into a film that was released in 2016. She is also co-author with Dale Jamieson of Love in the Anthropocene (OR Books, 2015). Published in July 2016, Lions is her third novel. Find her on Twitter: @bonnienadzam


Porochista Khakpour's debut novel, Sons and Other Flammable Objects, was named a New York Times Editor's Choice, one of the Chicago Tribune's Fall's Best and the 2007 California Book Award winner in the First Fiction category. Her honors include fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Johns Hopkins University Writing Seminars, Northwestern University, the Sewanee Writers' Conference, Ucross, and Yaddo. Her second novel The Last Illusion was one of 2014’s most anticipated books. She is working on a children’s book for Civil Coping Mechanism’s new imprint WHITE RABBIT. HarperPerennial will publish her memoir Sick in 2017. She currently lives in Harlem and is Writer in Residence at Bard College. Find her on Twitter: @pkhakpour


Kavita Das worked in the social change sector for fifteen years on issues ranging from homelessness to public health disparities to most recently, racial justice. She now focuses on writing about culture, race, social change, feminism, and their intersections. She’s a contributor to NBC News Asian America, The Rumpus, and The Aerogram and her work has been published in The Atlantic, Apogee Journal, Guernica, xoJane, The Margins, Quartz, The Feminist Wire, Colorlines, The Sun, and more. She is currently writing a biography of Grammy-nominated Hindustani singer, Lakshmi Shankar, who helped bring Indian music to the West, to be published by Harper Collins India. Her essay ‘On Parsing’ can be found on VIDAWeb. Find her on Twitter: @kavitamix.


Amy King is the recipient of the 2015 WNBA Award (Women’s National Book Association). Her latest collection, The Missing Museum, is a winner of the 2015 Tarpaulin Sky Book Prize. She serves on the executive board of VIDA: Women in Literary Arts and is co-editing with Heidi Lynn Staples the anthology, Big Energy Poets of the Anthropocene: When Ecopoets Think Climate Change. She is also co-editing the anthology, Bettering American Poetry 2015, and is an Associate Professor of Creative Writing at SUNY Nassau Community College.