Acclaim's Not Enough, Says Joanna Scott Novelist Says Women Writers Need Recognition

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NOVELIST Joanna Scott is a woman with many things on her mind. And one of those things is the current status of women writers.

Scott wrote three critically praised novels before she was 30 and sends critics searching their thesauruses for new superlatives each time she writes another. She was both a Guggenheim and MacArthur fellow and two of her works, the novel "Arrogance" and her short story collection "Various Antidotes," have been nominated for the prestigious PEN-Faulkner award.

But the operative word seems to be "nominated." Scott, recently in town at Washington University's International Writers Center, believes that women writers are still waiting to get the recognition they deserve. "Women are respected, they're read, they're treated seriously as writers," she says. Still, some long-term recognition is missing. "If you trace the thread of influence in fiction through the 20th century, the major players are usually men," she says. There are a few notable exceptions, such as Virginia Woolf and Gertrude Stein, but not many - though Scott sees Toni Morrison's recent Nobel Prize (1993) as a sign things may be changing. Married and the mother of two daughters, she concedes it was hard to leave her youngest, just 13 months old, for this trip. She didn't do a book tour for her 1996 novel, "The Manikin" (Henry Holt), because the baby was too young. "This is one of the first trips away from the baby," she says, somewhat sadly. "But," she adds, "it's relaxing." Parent-child relationships figure in much of Scott's work, and she believes that her role as parent may have something to do with that. "I think about people in different ways now that I have children. I'm watching with fascination as these children grow and change . …