Lionel Shriver (did I mention she is virtually my next-door neighbour?) has a piece in today's Guardian about the relative lack of prominence and praise afforded to women writers of literary fiction, as compared to that enjoyed by men. In particular she is irritated by the level of praise lavished - really not too strong a word in this case - on Jonathan Franzen for his new book, 'Freedom'. The praise may well be deserved but it's fascinating that he is lauded for writing a book essentially about a family which as LS relays, the NY Times Book Review described in breathless prose as "family as microcosm or micro-history".
Perhaps the flaw in Lionel's (did you notice that, first name terms?) piece today is that (other than a slight reference to Annie Proulz) she fails to list any women writers who deserve equal if not greater praise for a body of work just as literary as that of Jonathan Franzen's.
Let me fill in that gaping glaring hole with Anne Tyler. She has devoted her career to writing about the everyday lives of ordinary people in an extraordinary way. Although she is admired, she is not feted perhaps in the way some male writers are - I'm thinking of the near reverence afforded to Don DeLillo, Thomas Pynchon and Philip Roth.
I'm not the only one who feels that Anne Tyler is underrated - this is a link to Norm's archive piece on her writing which is much more succinct than I could ever be and for what it's worth I agree with his assessment of her work to date. Enjoy!