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Lit Lady Calls Chick Writers Hacky

Oct. 27 2008, Published 7:07 a.m. ET

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SCARY Gray

A Scottish journalist and horror writer is inspiring fear and loathing among British wordsmiths. Muriel Gray, who is helming the selection of the 2007 Orange Prize for Fiction, says women can't write imaginative fiction as well as men (or, presumably, herself).

Though books by Jane Smiley, Anne Tyler, and Nell Freudenberger make it through her scythe, Gray dismisses most of the entries as trivial portrayals of quotidian female life—the "rural schoolteacher syndrome," she calls it.

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"There were lots of books we rejected—about personal female issues, the loss of a child, the break-up of a marriage, thinly veiled autobiographical things of no consequence ... small personal takes on what it's like to be a woman."

Gray's most widely read novel? The Ancient, about a supertanker haunted by a monster, addressing the edifying issues of ... monsters ... on ... supertankers.

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