In December I interviewed historical romance author Sarah MacLean. I had contacted her because of a letter she had sent to the New York Times taking them to task for excluding romance authors and their works from a “Sex” issue published in the Sunday Book Review.
Here is a quote from Sarah’s letter to the New York Times:
“I was dismayed to see that of the 15 authors asked to discuss writing about sex in the “Naughty Bits” roundup, none write romance novels —the genre best known for its naughty bits.
“Romance holds a huge share of the consumer market, with more than $1.4 billion in sales in 2012*, so the omission is surprising. The lack of romance authors is especially glaring when one considers that each week, the mass-market, e-book and combined best-seller lists compiled by The New York Times include dozens of books from this far-reaching genre: historical, contemporary, paranormal, erotic and new adult.”
Sarah and the rest of us who read the Book Review every week were pleasantly surprised when, two weeks after the “Sex” issue, the Times ran her letter.
This week the Times did something even more shocking. In the Sunday Book Review, which is available online beginning the Friday of that week, they reviewed romance. It makes me so happy; I’m going to say it again. The Sunday New York Times Book Review, read by millions, published a review of romance novels.
The review is a feature called The Shortlist. The Shortlist was introduced in the fall of 2013. The Times wrote, “Our second new feature is The Shortlist — close-ups of new books of interest grouped each week according to subject, theme or genre. One week might look at new science fiction or horror, the next, the latest essay anthologies of note.”
Thus far it’s reviewed, among other things, YA Crossovers, Jewish identities, nonfiction works about modern cities, poetry, and Difficult Women. The Shortlist is different from the similar roundup of Crime and Science Fiction that appear regularly in the Book Review in that typically a Shortlist topic is only explored once.
This week’s shortlist was written by, yes, Sarah MacLean. In it she, reviews Sherry Thomas’s The Luckiest Lady in London, Kristan Higgin’s The Perfect Match, Tracy Anne Warren’s The Last Man on Earth, and Karen Rose’s Watch Your Back.
I asked Sarah if she thought the New York Times would review romance again. She answered (via Twitter) “I hope they’ll review more…but we have to show them it’s worth it…in page views.”
So let’s show the New York Times it is worth it to review romance. Let’s show the New York Times it makes economic sense to cover fiction’s best-selling genre. Click on this link, get your friends to click on this link, and maybe someday we’ll see our fabulous realm of literature taken seriously by the high priests of our culture.