RUBY 2019: Diversity

Congratulations to the finalists in the Romance Writers Australia annual RuBY (Romantic Book of the Year) Award. This is a reader judged contest for romance novels written by RWAus members, and to final is outstanding. I’m so pleased for everyone, and can’t wait for the awards dinner where the winners are announced.

Here are the finalists. The full list with buy links can be found on the RWAus website. You can join in the fun with #RubyReadalong.

My next comments are in no way a negative reflection of the individual authors or books, but rather an overview of the whole group. These are the books that Australian romance readers have deemed to be the best books published in 2018, and the lack of diversity among the group is an interesting look at publishing in Australia. Note that this is a tiny sample size of 17, so at best they are an indication only. The numbers below were compiled from publicly available data (cover and blurb).

Straight: 100% of the finalists are mf pairings. 89% of Australians identify as straight.

White: 76% of the covers have a white person on them (13/17). The race of the characters was not mentioned in any blurb, obviously this doesn’t mean they are all white, but the blurbs are all coded as white or white-passing bar one. Without reading the books, I can’t give more accurate information on this one. Australia doesn’t record race in the census data, but several studies estimate that Australia is 75-80% white.

Cover DescriptionCount
white woman8
white couple3
white man2
black or biracial woman1
b&w image of man (white?)1
illustration no people1
silhouette woman1

Able-bodied: 3/17 of the blurbs mentioned a physical issue: a long term leg injury, a heart transplant, and car crash scars. Up to 1 in 4 Australians identify as having a long term chronic illness or disability.

Age: No mentioned in any blurb, although the illustrated cover belongs to an older couple (romantic elements category).



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