Doris Lessing won the Nobel Prize for Literature because she deserves it, that’s why.
The criticism of Doris Lessing recently receiving the Nobel Prize is thinly disguised misogyny, salted with a snobbish distaste for fiction marketed as science fiction.
Literary critic Harold Bloom, commenting on Lessing's Nobel, told The Associated Press. "Although Ms. Lessing at the beginning of her writing career had a few admirable qualities, I find her work for the past 15 years quite unreadable ... fourth-rate science fiction."
Let us remember that is almost the exact quote that Kirkus Reviews used to slam Kurt Vonnegut’s Player Piano before it was recognized that he was not writing “fourth-rate science fiction,” but post-modern literature worthy of every prize in the book.
Harold Bloom and the rest of the self-appointed literati have their panties in a wad that some other literati dare defy their taste.
They are angry that a woman, one who describes the rich and varied experience of being a woman, from that the angry and territorial women in The Golden Notebook to an older woman who still can love and lust (Love, Again, 1996.) Men have decried her writing as unfeminine and strident, even though depictions of such emotions in male characters would have been lauded as righteous anger or machismo.
Her most recent novel, The Cleft, has been roundly reviled because it is obviously science fiction and, as science fiction, it is not scientifically accurate, which is suspiciously like reviewing a restaurant and pronouncing the food inedible and the portions, too small. One of the definitions of post-modern fiction, as opposed to mere SF, is the inclusion of the supernatural in a scientific framwork. The Cleft is magical realism, not science fiction, and if Gabriel Garcia Marquez had written it, he would have been heralded for his bravery and seeing deeply into the natures of women because he is male.
The men who deem themselves to be the taste-makers have their over-sized noses out of joint. They will probably slam Doris Lessing’s work and the Nobel Committee’s taste again and again in the upcoming weeks because the coveted prize went to a woman instead of a man.
It’s sexism, pure and simple, just like Doris Lessing’s characters were angry about in The Golden Notebook in 1962.
Author of RABID: A Novel
“A genre-bending novel, part thriller, part literary slapdown.”
–Booklist Starred Review