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Forbes Names the 10 Most Powerful Female Authors

by Melissa Silverstein
June 7, 2011 2:25 AM
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This is quite an interesting list and one thing I immediately noticed which is different from so many other lists is that it is a diverse list -- five white women and five women of color. And the list is about power and influence not necessarily about money, but they are all incredibly successful. To me the women of color on the list are more substantial and the white women, more commercial.

Here they are:
1- JK Rowling: Claim to fame- having sold $50 million books and given all of us who have read them and seen the movies immense pleasure

2- Danielle Steel: She has sold over 800 million books and the 8th best selling author of all time.

3- Toni Morrison: Pulitzer and Nobel Prizes

4- Stephenie Myer: 100 million books sold; and the movies are the most successful girl-led franchise grossing about $2 billion with two films still to go.

5- Mary Higgins Clark: 100 million books sold and every one of her 42 books has been a best-seller.

6- Maya Angelou: Nominee for the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award

7- Alice Walker: First African American Woman to win the Pulitzer Prize

8- Jhumpa Lahiri: Pulitzer winner for fiction

9- Joyce Carol Oates: Pulitzer Prize nominee and National Book Award Winner

10- Isabel Allende - the world's most widely read Spanish language author

The 10 Most Powerful Women Authors (Forbes)

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  • Ann Westcott | June 10, 2011 1:52 AMReply

    Where is Ayn Rand? How could a list of influential women authors not include her? Reading Atlas Shrugged is a life changing event for anyone with more than two brain cells working.

  • darkprince | June 9, 2011 8:15 AMReply

    All three of Jhumpa Lahiri's books have been best sellers and of course won critical acclaim. She breaks this silly of paradigm of white=commercial and woc=literary. Oates also breaks this mold, because she is considered a commercial literary author. Rowling and Meyer are pop novelists who follow rigid formulas through their prose and/or narrative devices. They might have power, and their works are appealing to a mass audience, but they do not have depth of Morrsion or Angelou.

  • Melody | June 8, 2011 2:19 AMReply

    Jihad Punk - I think the sad reality is that the themes presented in the types of books that Alice Walker, Maya Angelou and Toni Morrison write makes your average, privileged readers uncomfortable. Therefore it's kind of acceptable to label a serious book such as The Bluest Eye 'literary' and a more fluffy book such as Twilight 'mainstream.'

    While you *can* probably be deeply offended by stories about vampire romances and wizards, more people will be uncomfortable reading about race relations, abuse, incest, etc. It's meant to make them think. It's not just passive entertainment. I think it's a compliment, actually.

  • Akiva Penaloza | June 7, 2011 10:19 AMReply

    These women are amazing I am so proud of all of them. Pulitzers, Nobels, franchises... wow. : )

  • Jihad Punk | June 7, 2011 4:18 AMReply

    yeah that's pretty interesting how top-selling white female authors are "commercial" while top-selling WOC writers are "literary." I wonder why...

    it also surprises me, because I'd have thought that commercial WOC writers (like Terry McMillan) would sell more books and have more influence/power than "literary" WOC writers.

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