Sisters in Crime Turns 30

Sisters in Crime—an organization whose stated mission is “to promote the ongoing advancement, recognition and professional development of women crime writers”—turns 30 this year. In honor of the milestone, the Sisters released a fascinating report on their expansive history. “Raising Women’s Voices for 30 Years” delves into how the group set about helping women crime writers get the same recognition—and pay!—as their male counterparts.

The report delivers some sobering truths. In the late 80s, the Mystery Writers’ Association was an old boys’ club, one blind to the fact that women might even need to join together for equal treatment. So dire were the times that the New York Times Book Review once went several months without reviewing a single woman author of crime fiction—or of anything else. (Lightening the mood: the report’s inclusion of excellent names of early publications like Shameless Promotion for Brazen Hussies and a detailed description of just how labor-intensive it was for founding president Sara Paretsky to contact her constituents via the U. S. mail.)

The Sisters at Boucheron, 1989

Over the years, the organization grew to include chapters around the globe, involving women authors at every stage in their careers. The internet helped: not only were more women able to find out about the organization, but some chapters meet exclusively online.

In its 2017 iteration, Sisters in Crime is a powerhouse with 52 chapters, thousands of members, a speaker’s bureau, and an outreach arm that gives grants to women writers and has donated more than a hundred thousand dollars to libraries. The report wraps with the organization’s goals for the future, among them becoming even more inclusive and winning respect for the authors of cozy mysteries.

In short, the report drives home just how valuable this association is, and how far it has come. You can read the full document here.

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About the Author:

Eugenia Williamson is the Associate Editor of Digital Products at Booklist. She worked in bookstores for twelve years, reviews books for The Boston Globe, and writes about books, culture, and politics for several other publications. Follow her on Twitter at @Booklist_Genie.

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