Otto Penzler trashes writers of so-called "cozies" in an interview with Book Standard. This time, he says cozies aren’t worthy of Edgar consideration.
Are female mystery-writers—most often the authors of
the more non-threatening, proper cozies—even worthy of the award? Otto
Penzler, dean of mystery-writing in America, says no.
“The women who write [cozies] stop the action to go shopping, create a
recipe, or take care of cats,” he says. “Cozies are not serious
literature. They don’t deserve to win. Men take [writing] more
seriously as art. Men labor over a book to make it literature. There
are wonderful exceptions, of course—P.D. James, Ruth Rendell.”
Margaret Maron, president of Mystery Writers of America, which doles out the Edgars, and winner of one herself (for Bootlegger’s Daughter
in 1993), sniffs at this bias, as she considers it, saying that good
writers have been overlooked by the MWA as a result of unfair favoring
of male authors and their bloodier plots. “Wit, humor, and domesticity
haven’t been considered as significant as blood and violence.
He says this stuff, casually dismissing some of the genre’s best-loved writers and their books, and yet whenever he shows up at mystery conventions, people bow at his feet like he’s some kind of royalty. I don’t get it.
7 thoughts on “Otto is At It Again”
Must be spring in NYC. Otto’s on a rant best left unranted. You know what that means. Memorial Day is just around the corner.
I always find myself telling people that Otto is a Prince among Men, mainly because when he found out that I collected old SF digests from the ’50s, he sent me four boxes full of back issues of THE MAGAZINE OF FANTASY AND SCIENCE FICTION. So he may have some opinions that I don’t agree with, but he did me a good turn.
I think its similar to the difference between comedies and dramas at the Oscars. Its much harder for a comedy to get Best Picture than a ‘serious’ dramatic film.
I have no clue who he is, but I don’t see why he’s so concerned. I’m not sure I’ve seen a cozy nominated in the last few years. Since I’ve been following anyway.
Rhys Bowen’s book was nominated this year and I believe it’s a cozy. The Edgar committees, though, tend to prefer a fairly narrow type of book.
I stand very much corrected, David. I love Rhys’ books, too. Color me embarrassed.
They seem usually to nominate 1 cozy per year. The real area the MWA slights is thrillers.