Author Jodi Picoult is taking aim and criticizing the publishing industry for what she perceives as their sexist nature. As part of her latest book tour to promote her new release, Leaving Time, the author sat down with the Telegraph, and in the interview, she explains that even though she is a New York Times Bestselling author, her works are consistently labelled as women’s fiction, most commonly called chick lit. As she explains to the interviewer, that does not mean that women are her audience, but instead that because she is a woman that means her work is automatically deemed to be chick lit.
Picoult is a 48-year-old American woman who has written 23 novels in the past 22 years. Eight of those 23 novels have made it to the number one spot on to the New York Times Bestsellers list. Every time one of her new books is released she does a three month tour promoting the book and has a large Twitter following known as the #Jodiverse. With all of these publishing accomplishments firmly under her belt, Picoult feels that the industry still refuses to take her seriously as an author.
As Picoult tells the Telegraph, because she is a woman her books automatically get labelled as chick lit with what she describes as covers that come off as fluffy and pink. She goes so far as to point out other authors and their work, stating that if their book had not been written by a man they would have ended up with the same stigma of being chick lit. Although Picoult’s criticism of the publishing industry is mainly in regards to her own books and how they are portrayed because she is a woman, her point is easily made when looking at the way her books are marketed.
In Picoult’s book The Pact, the story is described as a love story and yet by the end the teenager who is supposed to be involved in this love story has been shot in the head. Then there is The Storyteller about a former Nazi SS guard and the Holocaust. As Picoult says in her interview, neither of these books should really be considered chick lit and yet because she is a woman that is how all of her books are categorized.
In the author’s latest book, Leaving Time, the story focuses on a researcher who has been studying elephants and their behavior including how they handle grief. When a tragedy occurs and the researcher disappears, it leaves her daughter to uncover the mystery of her mother’s disappearance. The story covers many different themes including how individuals and animals handle grief, questions surrounding aferlife and even the bond that a mother has with her child.
While Picoult is still known primarily as a women’s fiction author, her books do not have the feel of being the average chick lit. Instead, her stories touch on a number of topical issues such as cancer, death, racism, gay rights and any number of other compelling topics. As Picoult criticizes the publishing industry for their seemingly inaccurate categorization of her novels, she will continue to write the stories that have meaning no matter how the industry chooses to label them.
By Kimberley Spinney
Picture by Chris – Flickr License