Can You Tell the Sex of an Author from a Paragraph, Like VS Naipaul?

In an interview at the Royal Geographic Society last week, during which Nobel laureate and jackass VS Naipaul idiotically suggested that women writers are ‘sentimental’ and ‘unequal to me’, he also claimed that ‘I read a piece of writing and within a paragraph or two I know whether it is by a woman or not.’ So the Guardian UK put together a little quiz to see how well people could guess the sex of various passages’ authors. If you skip the quiz and just hit “submit” to see the answers (like we did), you’ll score a 0 out of a possible 10, eliciting the response “Awful. What are you, a girl or something?” Ha ha! (We’ll give you a bit of an edge: the above passage is from The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison.)

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One Comment

  1. I scored 8/10. Not bad.

    Naipaul’s comments are just silly provocation. He understands, like so many rock stars do, that any publicity is good publicity for an artist; courting controversy is a smart move. He’ll sell more books to women who want to shut his mouth than he ever could without embroiling himself in controversy. It’s the Howard Stern principle – people who love him tune in for an hour a day, and people who hate him tune in for two.

    In Naipaul’s defense, he shares my barfy distaste for Jane Austen. I’d rather get a root canal than read one of her books. Although that’s how I feel about most pre-Victorian and Victorian literature, regardless of the author’s gender.

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