’Male’ Writing versus ‘Female’ Writing: Some Perspective on Politics, Gender, Identity, and the Act of Writing Consciously” by Samina Ali
In an interview with Royal Geographic Society, V.S. Naipaul, Booker Prize winner, claims that women writers are no match for men. Women writing, he states, is "too sentimental" and has a "narrow view of the world." He goes on to state that he can "read a piece of writing and within a paragraph or two I know whether it is by a woman or not." In a talk that challenges Naipaul's claim, novelist and memoirist Samina Ali will read a few paragraphs of fiction and nonfiction writers' works without revealing the writer's gender, asking audience members to deconstruct the writing to see how it works on multiple levels: character, plot, dialogue, description, place, and setting. Is the passage "too sentimental" or "narrow" or in other ways stereotypically “male” or “female”? Do women writers confine themselves to the domestic sphere while men conquer politics and economics, the world? How would Toni Morrison (also Nobel Prize winner), J.K. Rowling or Gloria Steinem answer these questions? Finally, as perhaps most tellingly, what do our answers mean? As a Muslim woman of Indian descent who grew up in the Midwest, Ali will take on these questions and talk about her own writing process as well, how she has consciously used gender and identity to her advantage in her work.
Samina Ali was born in Hyderabad, India and raised both there and in the United States. Her debut novel, Madras On Rainy Days, was awarded the Prix Premier Roman Etranger 2005 Award by France and was also chosen as the finalist for both the PEN/Hemingway Award in Fiction as well as the California Book Reviewers Award. Poets & Writers magazine named Madras as one of the Top 5 Best Debut Novels of the Year in 2004. Ali speaks regularly at colleges across the country and has traveled internationally with the U.S. State Department. She has written for Self and Child magazines, The San Francisco Chronicle and The New York Times.