Jennifer Weiner has written a bunch of books that have sold remarkably well and been made into films (like In Her Shoes and Good in Bed, books referred to as women’s fiction, usually in a way that makes the author feel less important than other more literary writers) and Jodi Picoult has as well (another writer whose work has been turned into movies with Cameron Diaz, like My Sister’s Keeper) and they nary spend any time in public talking about their work being relegated to chick lit status. However, as the New York Times and other such high-falutin’ tomes hurt themselves whirling one amazing adjective after another at Jonathan Franzen’s new book Freedom, calling Franzen a “genius” and saying that his book really IS the All-American Novel generations of writers have been trying to create, Weiner and Picoult have come together to decry this publicity and have begun a literary scandal that has captured national attention, be it chick lit-erary or just plain literary.
Jennifer Weiner and Jodi Picoult have been bestselling authors for years. Franzen famously ruined his marriage, health and financial situation writing his last “great” book, The Corrections, which was invited to be an Oprah Book and, very famously, denied by the author. Franzen claimed that Oprah would take credit for the success of his book. Whoa! Dissing the Queen of the Book Clubs? The woman who can turn your book into a trillion-selling lightning-speed success? Franzen did it and won many accolades for it but not a million bucks.
Weiner and Picoult are not the first to decry this public humiliation, where their work is called commercial, meaning unimportant, even though they have milions of fans and are in print in hundreds of countries around the world. But is this a case of sexual discrimination even more than an intellectual vs. commercial one? If Weiner and Picoult were guys, would they get more of the attention that Franzen is getting? Or is their work not deserving?
Which of these authors do you read more often? Of course, Franzen has only published two books in the last ten years and Weiner & Picoult write one every year or every other year. Do you think this is a fair judgment that they have passed on Franzen?