It also, as the BBC points out, features a strong showing from female authors. Unlike other recent lists, including the Observer’s, women writers dominate the top 10, and books by women make up nearly 40% of the total 100 novels on the list. Speculating as to why this might be, Hephzibah Anderson writes for the BBC that “Britain’s literary landscape appears to be a good deal more female to outsiders than we ourselves appreciate”, and suggests that “so many generations of women writers have found themselves to be doubly outsiders – by virtue of both gender and creative calling – that their observations appeal to other outsiders”.
In my view, given my preoccupations with the politics of intelligibility, this last sentence is key and must be considered when one either makes or reads lists ranking literary quality. It is so obvious to me that every time a new list comes out my main response is likely to be skeptical simply because this factor is almost inevitably ignored when each new list is flourished. In this case, precisely because the list does not follow the hegemonic critical stance, that factor is noted to explain the apparent discrepancy in rankings between the presumed experts on British Literature and the "outsiders." The presumption underlying this need to explain is, I hope, obvious.