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Ben Watt, Mike Nicol, Rachel Cooke and Jonathan Gibbs

Literary reviews - do women get a fair deal? Musician Ben Watt on his memoir about his parents, and South African crime writer Mike Nicol on his latest book Of Cops and Robbers.

DJ and presenter Ben Watt, also known as one half of Everything But the Girl, has written his memoir. His first, Patient, dealt with his harrowing experience of a life-threatening illness in the 1990s. Now, Romany and Tom, focuses on his parents' lives, looking back on their younger, glamorous days in 1950s London in an attempt to understand who the frail but obstinate and infuriating elderly couple relying on him for care now, really are.

In our special programme broadcast over Christmas, Mariella Frostrup explored how 2013 had been the year of the women writer, with women scooping up the majority of last year's major literary prizes. Female writers and their work may have emphatically been acknowledged on the awards front, but it seems there's still room for improvement when it comes to the reviews. A study out last year found a continuing bias towards books written by men, with male novelists getting far more column inches than their female counterparts and more men reviewing those books than women. So with more women buying books than men, are they being catered for when it comes to book reviews? Observer journalist Rachel Cooke and reviewer Jonathan Gibbs discuss the issue.

South African crime writer Mike Nicol's Revenge trilogy saw him crowned the King of South African crime fiction. A onetime journalist who also penned the authorized Mandela biography, Nicol now uses his native Cape Town and its surrounding tourist hot spots to great effect as the backdrop for stories that expose the shady underside to this sunny place. His latest Of Cops and Robbers is no exception revealing the corruption and violence that permeates so much of modern life in this once optimistic nation.

Producer: Andrea Kidd.

Available now

28 minutes



Of Cops and Robbers by Mike Nicol - Publisher: Old Street


Romany and Tom by Ben Watt – Publisher: Bloomsbury 


Her Brilliant Career: Ten Extraordinary Women of the Fifties

by Rachel Cooke - Publisher: Virago


Randall by Jonathan Gibbs – Publisher: Gallery Beggar Press




Read the Opening Chapter from Of Cops and Robbers by Mike Nicol

Chapter 1 Of Cops and Robbers by Mike Nicol


Of Cops and Robbers


Get ahead with Mariella’s next book The Visitors by Sally Beauman

Find Chapter 1 of The Visitors by Sally Beauman


The Visitors


Role Contributor
Presenter Mariella Frostrup
Interviewed Guest Ben Watt
Interviewed Guest Rachel Cooke
Interviewed Guest Jonathan Gibbs
Interviewed Guest Mike Nicol
Producer Andrea Kidd


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