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I haven’t read anything by author V. S. Naipaul (he writes that dreaded “literary fiction,” so I’m unlikely to do so), but he comes across as kind of a jerk in a recent interview. He dismissively describes female authors as “sentimental” and “unequal to me.” He also says that he can tell in a paragraph or two the gender of the author. Now, I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t read a lot of female authors, and thanks to LibraryThing, I know that less than 12% of the 4,900 books I own were written by female authors. So I decided to take the quiz that The Guardian created to determine whether, as Naipaul says, I could detect a female author. Here’s the quiz. It seemed a fair quiz to me as I haven’t actually read any of the works quoted. Guess what I scored? 1 out of 10. That’s right, I guessed correctly 10% of the time. Raw probability would suggest that I should have scored 50%. Not sure what’s going on here, save to suggest that whenever I thought an author was female based on the writing style or content, I was almost inevitably wrong. Probably says more about me than the quiz, but needles to say, I think Naipaul is flat out wrong. What do you think?

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