Can a Woman Write the Great American Novel?

Although Stephenie Meyer and J.K. Rowling routinely top the charts, there’s a big divide between men and women on bestseller lists. Male authors usually outnumber women by two to one, Salon’s Laura Miller reports. Elaine Showalter’s new book, A Jury of Her Peers: American Women Writers From Anne Bradstreet to Annie Proulx, offers a comprehensive history of female writers who tried to write the Great American Novel. Salon calls Showalter—a founder of feminist literary criticism—“the woman for the job,” and says that book offers “more grist for the mill than a hundred volumes of theory.” But Showalter’s approach to feminine lit is exclusively historical, and she hardly touches the topic of where women authors are going. “Whatever the future of America's women writers will be, it is women readers who will have the most say in it, and their tastes are shifting,” Miller concludes.