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Women's fiction 'does not have to be miserable'

18th March 2010

Female authors should not feel compelled to write books which are focused on misery just because they are in vogue with the literary world, a novelist has urged.

Daisy Goodwin, chairwoman of the Orange Prize for Fiction's judging panel, recently said that many of the books entered in the women-only competition dealt with depressing subjects, leading her to feel 'like a social worker' when reading them.

Writing in the Daily Telegraph, Silver Bay author Jojo Moyes claimed the rise in popularity of the 'misery memoir' has left the publishing industry fixated on stories about despair and abuse.

She also pointed out that female writers who craft 'fluffy, upbeat chick-lit' are often overlooked - giving the example of Barbara Kingsolver, who gained critical acclaim only after writing The Poisonwood Bible.

'I think Goodwin's entrants have simply realised the truth: that there are no literary credentials to be gained from writing upbeat prose,' Moyes wrote.

However, the author said that there is hope for women who want to write humorous and witty books, noting that novelists such as Joanna Trollope and Maeve Binchy consistently achieve high sales.

Amy's Honeymoon writer Julia Llewellyn is another echoing the sentiments. Writing in the Daily Mail, Ms Llewellyn said she is tired of the trend of misery in women's fiction and called for greater focus on joy and humour in literature.

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