Recently I got a very interesting email from a reader. Frank Kovarik writes and teaches English in St. Louis. For the last five years, he has also been keeping meticulous track of the fiction that appears in the New Yorker. Not just the titles and authors, but things like gender, country of origin, and frequency of appearance.
Frank has generously offered to make his spreadsheet available to download in Excel format. If you’re interested, you can get it here.
Having this data allows us to dig deeper into the proclivities of New Yorker fiction editor Deborah Treisman and whoever else has a hand in what fiction appears in the magazine’s hallowed pages.
Gender: From the database we learn that, of the 257 stories in the New Yorker from 2003 through 2007, 96 or 37.4% were penned by women.
Nationality: Americans account for a fairly substantial portion of the stories that appear in the New Yorker, 134 of them, or 52% (and this leaves off several writers who could be conceivably classified as both American and a native of another country). Coming in tied for second are the Brits and the Irish at 18 stories apiece.
Frequency: Much of that Irish total comes from master of the short story form, William Trevor, who readers were most likely to find if they flipped through an issue these last five years. Trevor was there on nine occasions. Including, an issue that included three separate but linked stories, Canada’s Alice Munro comes in second with eight stories. 12 other writers have appeared at least five times over the last five years, meaning that 14 writers have accounted for 32% of the fiction in the magazine during that period.
- William Trevor
- Alice Munro
- Tessa Hadley
- Haruki Murakami
- Thomas McGuane
- T. Coraghessan Boyle
- Roddy Doyle
- Louise Erdrich
- Lara Vapnyar
- John Updike
- George Saunders
- Edward P. Jones
- Charles D’Ambrosio
- Antonya Nelson
If anybody else draws interesting conclusions from the spreadsheet, we’d love to hear about them.