LRB Finds Itself in Hole, Keeps Digging


We’ve written a fair amount about this year’s VIDA numbers. We even featured an essay by Andrew Ervin, a writer who realized he was part of the problem—only 23.5% of the books he had reviewed during his career were by women.

The London Review of Books is, by VIDA’s reckoning, one of the worst offenders: only about 25% of the books they reviewed in the past three years were by women, and the amount of female reviewers was even lower.

So when they sent author Kathryn Heyman a note about her subscription expiring, she wrote back explaining the reason she was letting that expiration happen: she was fed up with the publication’s refusal to do anything about their gender gap.

Instead of leaving well enough alone and letting Heyman’s subscription die a quiet death, LRB responded that the reasons behind their testosterone roster were “as complicated as it gets,” and that “the efforts we’ve made to change the situation have been hopelessly unsuccessful.”

A, um, lively correspondence ensued.

Lauren O'Neal is an MFA student at San Francisco State University. Her writing has appeared in publications like Slate, The New Inquiry, and The Hairpin. You can follow her on Twitter at @laureneoneal. More from this author →