Friday, June 3, 2011


V.S. Naipaul's Party Trick

Earlier this week, writer and noted shit-talker V.S. Naipaul said during an interview that women writers aren't as good as their male counterparts. Hahahaha. Anyway, he also claimed that he can tell within a few paragraphs if something was written by a man or a woman. So, to test his theory that it's possible to discern the sex of a writer from their work, the Guardian put together a fun little quiz. Why don't you go take it and see if you prove the old crank right or wrong. (I scored an impressive 3 out of 10, but that could be because I was too busy fretting about my own feelings and indulging my sentimental nature to do anything well.)

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I was disappointed/shamed to score an 8/10, but I'm choosing to believe it was luck and not sexist-piggism a la Naipaul. Plus, I knew one of them was Irving because I had read the book.


@doubledown: I got 5/10, but was distracted patting myself on the back for recognizing Irving and Zadie Smith. Oh, ego!


For once I don't care about my test score (5/10, a solid F!), just the fact that I answered 'female' for the sole VS Naipaul excerpt.


@ishie@twitter I did too! & overall, I got a 6/10; despite having read three of the books, I only recognized one of them. (I did get the gender right for all three books I'd read, though, which is kind of interesting.)


@ishie@twitter Hah, I did, too. Also scored a solid fail, with 4/10.



I did the same thing and it made me gleeful: "Hey VS Naipaul -- you write like a GIRL!"

Tyler Coates

I got 7 out of 10! That is because I clicked the mouse with my penis.


@Tyler Coates I got 7 too! Um, with my penis analog? This highlighter? I don't know.

Naipaul's a first-rate asshole and a real, real overrated writer. Unfortunately sexism's not even close to alone on the list of terrible isms he espouses.


@Tyler Coates I got 2/10! I shouldn't have clicked with my clit. Too small.


@Tyler Coates Quit trying to make me fall in love with you!


I got 0 out of 10. Which doesn't seem statistically likely, especially as I had read several of the books.


@LondonNewYorker Awww, that's so cute that you think you know about statistics, sweetie. :pet pet pet:



*hangs head in innumerate shame*


I didn't even take the test yet, and I haaate people who point out dorky shit like this, BUT I love the Guardian, and the Telegraph it ain't. Sincerely, a person addicted to British newspapers.

Cassie Murdoch

@rayray Right you are! Fixed!


I got 6/10, but its all okay cos I recognized the quote from the Blind Assassin and its one of my all-time favourites. VS Naipaul should stop admiring his own dick and read some Atwood.


@rayray Rayray, I think I love you.


@itmakesmewonder Aw thats made my day that has! <3


@rayray Agreed!!! The world would be a better place if everyone read more Atwood!

I got 6/10, but I recognized 4 of the passages so I don't think those count.


@rayray I love Atwood too, but totally failed to recognize that quote. Oh well, my inability to remember books I've read means I've been able to enjoy the plot reveal in The Blind Assassin like three times.

Anyway, 5/10, equal to chance, woo! GUYS I THINK VS NAIPAUL MIGHT BE WRONG.


@TheBelleWitch I totally reread it recently and was, like, "oh no they didn't!". I was so surprised.
I also didn't recognize the Blind Assassin and guessed it wrong. I also only scored a 1/10 because I Don't See Gender.


I got 5/10 and the best part is this little gem:

"Sloppy thinking. You clearly need to read more books by men."


I answered female for everything and ended up with 5/10! The only one I actually answered seriously before getting bored was the first one... and it was his. I was pretty sure it was female.

Katie Heaney

I only got 4/10 but that's only because I couldn't see clearly through the feelings pouring out of my eyeballs.


@Katie Heaney You would probably have done better if you were standing in the kitchen while taking the quiz. Bonus points for not wearing shoes and/or being pregnant.


@Katie Heaney As a proud owner of a Buster McThunderstick, your low score comes as no surprise. You are not the master of your house, Katie.


5/10. According to the quiz I have sloppy thinking and clearly need to read more books by men. Indeed.

Josh is like Germany Ambitious and Misunderstood

Sometimes I misread "sexist" as "sexiest". Sorry gang :(

elysian fields

@Josh is like Germany Ambitious and Misunderstood yeah I thought this too and my brain shuddered at the juxtaposition of "V.S. Naipaul" and "sexy"

Tragically Ludicrous

@Josh is like Germany Ambitious and Misunderstood To quote Spinal Tap, "what's wrong with being sexy?"


I actually took this quiz yesterday. I got a 5/10, too. How about that.


@NeenerNeener "Not bad for a girl." -V.S. Naipaul

femme cassidy

5/10 and sloppy thinking for me too. The only excerpt I recognized was the Zadie Smith one, because I love her with an all-consuming passion.


@femme cassidy I challenge you to a duel. Pistols at dawn, she is mine!

femme cassidy

@dabbyfanny Far too dignified. I challenge you to a catfight!


4/10... What a knobber. Has anyone seen him and Rich Santos in the same room together? Just sayin'


6/10. At first I was like 'hmm, not bad'. But then I realised it was kinda bad.


Damn it, I got 7. But is it my fault Naipaul writes like a girl?

science is sexy@twitter

VS Naipaul is a fucking idiot. He once called Tony Blair a "socialist." Obviously, he exists in some kind of weird opposite-land.

Ozzie, The Last Hairbender

I scored a 5. I'm pretty happy with myself.


"Writer and noted shit talker" is an awesome opener.

Oh and I got a 7. I thought Rushdie, Mcewan and Irving were women.


Eight. Fuck! But I recognized like, four of them so it doesn't mean dick. Except! I didn't recognize Zadie Smith, and I love her to fucking bits (and I've read On Beauty three times) so WTH? And then I realized that in her extract, she is writing in the voice of a male, which she does much more convincingly than the douche-nozzle Naipur writes as a woman. Therefore, she is the far superior writer! Hahaha as if we needed proof but whatever.


Someone needs to buy Mr. Naipaul the complete works of Nicholas Sparks.


@TophBeiFong This.


I got 4/10. I thought I was kicking ass at it too. Sigh! I recognized the Irving quotation but would have thought it was male anyway.


I got 8/10, but I'm hoping it's at least in part due to a subconscious recognition of the ones I've read.


@lovelettersinhell Exactamundo! I was more surprised that I didn't remember all those passages from the books I had read. The Bluest Eye is supposedly one of my favorites of all time! Sheez.

Also, BS Naipaul is a clueless nerd.


So I ended the months of Hairpin lurkery and created an account just so I could report that I got 9/10. I do not know how to feel about this :/


@Acertainromance Welcome! I only got 6/10 :(


At 2/10, I'm shamed to think that I'd actually read several of those books and not recognized 'em... but I did think Naipaul's text was by a woman. Not sure why exactly, but then, I thought the final item was definitely by a man because really, what woman leaves a cookie dangling halfway to her mouth because she seems some guy in loafers?


I got a 6/10. but I totally realized i was subconsciously registering some preconcieved notions I've had about some of those authors. Yet, I based most of my decisions on whether it was a man or not on if they could write about females well.... ( cause I find that male authors don't make their women multifaceted often, but you know that's just me.) Also, I've also found that male writers read more as overdramatic i.e. the Naipaul excerpt...

Reread that, I feel like a bad person...Thanks Naipaul! I can't comment on this without thinking about how much I'm buying into social perceptions.. *facepalm*

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