This might be dubbed the Battle of the Best-selling Authors.
Round One: Jeffrey Eugenides, a Princeton creative writing professor and author of novels considered literary by the literati, calls out novelist Jodi Picoult ’87 in a Sept. 26 interview with Salon for “belly-aching” about what she sees as preferential treatment of men’s novels by the media.
Round Two: Picoult joins forces with Jennifer Weiner ’91 — fellow author of “women’s novels,” otherwise known as best-sellers that do not get much respect — to smack down Eugenides in a letter to The Daily Princetonian.
“The women Eugenides teaches,” the pair write, “will graduate into a world where their work is less likely to be acquired by publishers, where their books are less likely to be reviewed, and where they are less likely to write for important publications.”
They also had this rejoinder for Eugenides, who won a Pulitzer in 2003 for his novel Middlesex: “Books once dismissed as popular trash are now studied in universities; books that won Pulitzer Prizes are barely remembered.”
Round Three: Eugenides tells The Prince that the alumnae “are taking a single word” — belly-aching — “out of the context of a long discussion and using it as a headline to their own ends.” Picoult told the newspaper that the pair had been in touch with Eugenides and he initially had suggested they meet for a beer so he could explain his comments, but he later cut off contact with them.
Picoult and Weiner say they would like to speak at the University about how female writers are treated. If that happens, let’s hope the three of them end up sharing a few beers and singing “Old Nassau.”