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When I published my first novel, The Fake Celebrity in China, in 2008, I was keen to get exposure for it in New Zealand. I contacted the New Zealand Society of Authors, and asked them if they would be interested in reviewing it, in their e-zine, an online magazine.
I received a very enthusiastic response from a woman, who was the Northland representative. She requested a copy of the book. I duly sent it.
A short while later, I received another e-mail from her, informing me that she had sent my book to a female reviewer, and that she had disliked my book so much, that she felt she could not review it. She apologized, and that was that. To be honest, I took it as a compliment.
I read their following e-zine, and saw that my book did not even get a mention. Ironically, I noticed an article in the e-zine, concerned with the suppression, and oppression of Chinese writers, by the Chinese government, calling for support from New Zealand writers to help their cause.
Later, I learned the expression, “political correctness”. The Chinese government silenced writers who they did not consider politically correct. I struggled to see the difference, between the way the New Zealand Society of Authors had treated me, for not being politically correct, as they saw it.
I guess that is the point, it does not matter who decides, but the fact that anyone decides.
Amusingly, over a decade later, if you check the current national board of the New Zealand Society of Authors, you will see it is represented by eight people, all female.