Margaret Atwood

Women Occupy Top Literary Fiction Spots in 2017!

Despite women writers’ strong performance in literary fiction, they take up less than half of the slots in The Bookseller’s overall UK top fifty bestselling authors of 2017. The list is made up of an eclectic mix of genres including thriller authors Lee Child and James Patterson; Chef Jamie Oliver; health guru Joe Wicks; and children’s writers Jeff Kinney and Philip Pullman.


While there is still an imbalance between male and female authors submitting to major literary prizes, this year the UK top ten bestselling authors of literary fiction features only one male writer. Margaret Atwood has secured the number one spot as the bestselling literary novelist of the year. Atwood’s success this year was elevated by the television adaptations of her novels The Handmaids Tale and Alias Grace


Margaret Atwood

Image Via The New Yorker


In second place generating 1.1 million Pounds in sales comes the late Helen Dunmore for her novel The Birdcage Walk and collection of poetry published the same year, Inside the Wave. Dunmore passed last June after battling cancer. She is the author of twelve novels, three books of short stories, numerous books for young adults and children, and eleven collections of poetry.


Helen Dunmore

Image Via The Independant


Sarah Perry came in third place for her novel The Essex Serpent, which won her the British Book Award’s fiction book of the year and overall book of the year including multiple other prizes from NPR, The Kirkus Review, The Independent, The Washington Post, and The Waterstone’s book of the year.


Sarah Perry

Image Via Radio Times


In fourth place came the author of The Power, Naomi Alderman. Alderman’s sales reached over a million Pounds in 2017. Her novel was met with endless praise and awards and explores a recognisable world in which women come to possess a fierce new power. Of The Power, NPR’s Michael Schaub writes:


Novels based on premises like the one at the core of The Power can quickly become little more than thought experiments, but Alderman dodges this trap deftly — her writing is beautiful, and her intelligence seems almost limitless. She also has a pitch-dark sense of humor that she wields perfectly.



Naomi Alderman

Image Via Los Angeles Times


Fifth place was given to Italy’s most beloved writer, Elena Ferrante, author of the acclaimed Neapolitan series and this year,  The Story of a New Namewhich is about to be adapted into a HBO series. Ferrante, the author’s pseudonym, raked in over a million Pounds in 2017 and her novel has won her a passionate following outside of Italy. 


Elena Ferrante

Image Via Twitter


The 6th spot on the list and the only featured male writer is Haruki Murakami, a faithful representative of modern Japanese culture and the self-established unofficial laureate of Japan, for his novels Kafka on the Shore and The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. For millions of readers, Murakami is the primary source of the texture and shape of his native country, having been born in Kyoto in 1949.



Image Via Literary Roadhouse


The list also includes Ali Smith, Zadie Smith, Maggie O’Farrell, and Arundhati Roy. This list lends an eye to how women live, imagine, and think across the globe. Now more than ever we need a compelling fiction to expand our capacity for empathy and imagination. Strong women’s voices such as those listed above are guiding us there.


Feature Image Via TVO