Are You Addicted To 'Grip Lit.'?

Women-centric stories are dominating the publishing world


Women are the biggest consumers of books.

And this year there are more books published by women and about female characters than ever before.

The Booker Prize shortlist is fifty percent female and as more women are added to the list I have also noticed an increase of diversity.

As a film and television scout I tend to read books up to two years ahead of publication and it's always exciting when you can see a trend forming and watch how the public responds to it.


The appetite for 'Grip Lit.' (Gripping Literature) or 'Domestic Suspense' - as a fellow scout told me they call it in the US - started with The Girl on the Train and Gone Girl and has been phenomenal.

Rosamund Pike in Gone Girl

I believe the reason these books have captured the imagination of women readers is that the main protagonists look like me and you and every female we know.

This, alongside the gripping, thrilling circumstances we could almost imagine happening to us, makes these stories perfect for long commutes and they leave us feeling literally thrilled that the twists and plots could be the narrative of our own lives.

As the publishing industry heads to Frankfurt Book Fair, the biggest rights trade fair in the world, I feel as though we are overloaded with such stories and a little bit of me dies every time I see a title containing the words Girl On.. or Next Door... but I am pleased there are books to satisfy the tastes of all women.

Thankfully there are even more great stories coming from other genres of literature that explore real-life women in real-life settings and make us consider the world from a different vantage point.

Books I am really looking forward to over the coming months are The Atomic Weight of Love by Elizabeth J. Church, a taut story of a intelligent woman in 1940s America who leaves academia behind to follow her older husband who is secretly building an atomic bomb.

Conversations with Friends is an illuminating and fresh debut that covers themes of politics, sex and love.

Here Comes the Sun by Jamaican academic Nicole Dennis-Benn highlights the sex trade and the stigma of lesbian relationships on her native Caribbean island.

Non-Fiction is also ripe with female voices, with big books by heavyweight feminists such as Roxanne Gay and bright newcomer Emily Witt. Witt's book Future Sex highlights sex and relationships in the age of the Internet.

What weaves all of these books together, and makes the diversity of female voices sing as a chorus, is the hymn that women can be and do everything and through these stories can inspire each other.

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