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Are women writers ignored in reviews?

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ARE Canadian women writers ignored by Canadian reviewers? A study by Canadian Women in the Literary Arts suggests that the answer to that question depends on which publication you look at.

The inaugural study indicates that the percentage of books by women reviewed in 14 publications in 2011 ranged from a low of 23 (The Walrus) to a high of 64 (Prism International).

In the two newspapers studied, books by women were in the minority, making up 33 per cent of reviews in the National Post and 40 per cent in the Globe and Mail (the Free Press wasn't studied). In Canada's national book industry magazine, Quill & Quire, books by women made up 53 per cent of reviews. Details are available online at www.cwila.com.

Accompanying the review is a breakdown of titles submitted for the Governor General's Literary Awards in the last three years, indicating that women account for 32 per cent of non-fiction books submitted for the award, 48 per cent of poetry, 50 per cent of fiction and 72 per cent of children's books.

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Manitobans who dream of writing about nature or creating fiction for teenagers will be able to learn from two of the province's masters of those genres in special Saturday creative writing courses at the University of Winnipeg.

Jake MacDonald (Grizzlyville, The Houseboat Chronicles) leads a course called Writing on the Edge: Nature Writing, Sept. 29 and Oct. 13. His two-day course touches on nature writing from Thomas Hobbes and Jean Jacques Rousseau to Annie Dillard and Jon Krakauer.

Anita Daher, author of 10 novels for young readers, including Two Foot Punch, leads a course called Catcher in the Wry: Teen Novel Intensive, Jan. 19 and Feb. 2, 2013. Both courses run 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For questions about admission and fees, contact the University of Winnipeg English department at 786-9292.

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If independent publishing houses could afford champagne, four corks would have been popped in Winnipeg earlier this month when a planned cut to a literary marketing co-op was rescinded.

The federal Department of Canadian Heritage had planned to cut funding for the Literary Press Group, which employs sales staff and produces catalogues to market books produced by 47 independently owned Canadian publishers.

Canadian Heritage minister James Moore gave a verbal assurance June 14 to LPG that the funding ($235,000 in 2010-11) would not be cut.

Four Manitoba publishers -- Arbeiter Ring, J. Gordon Shillingford, Signature Editions and Turnstone Press -- are marketed nationally through LPG.

booknewsbob@gmail.com

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 23, 2012 J8

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