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Just like a woman

Why do we need a women-only prize for fiction? Women may write differently but in great writing gender is transcended and women writers must now insist on its irrelevance

The year 1997 has been a good year for women in literature. Muriel Spark won the David Cohen prize, and Beryl Bainbridge the Whitbread. In the recent past, Antonia Byatt, Penelope Fitzgerald, Penelope Lively, Iris Murdoch and Nadine Gordimer have all been Booker winners. So does the women-only Orange prize for fiction, due to make its second award this June, need to exist? The comment, by co-founder Kate Mosse, that “women’s creative achievements are under-represented on prize shortlists” seems plain wrong. But there is another assumption enshrined in the Orange prize: that women write differently. If so, we should consider…

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