‘Myth-busting women and literature’

The myth I’m busting is: ‘Women writers are too preoccupied with frivolous topics – hence, chick lit.’

The contention is that women writers—and by implication readers—are concerned with trivial and frivolous topics. As a male writer once said to me at a party—a famous and political South African writer—‘there’s too much kitchen sink fiction published these days’.

‘Kitchen sink fiction’: he’d had a few drinks, we shouldn’t hold him entirely responsible for this phrase, which has lodged in my mind, even though it was spoken almost ten years ago. I interpreted this phrase as being a statement about women’s (or men’s, I suppose) writing about the domestic sphere, although I may have been wrong. To a man who had been imprisoned under the apartheid regime, the domestic might have seemed like a luxury. ‘Kitchen Sink fiction’ connoted the kind of fiction written by people who had lived a comfortable and privileged existence.