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The sniggering and titters were audible as the most dreaded literary award was announced this year. Winner Manil Suri preferred to stay home rather than attend the award ceremony. Maybe he was busy or maybe he was embarrassed.
Here's the backgrounder for those who just came in -Suri, the Indian-American author of The City of Devi, has won that eminent award for purple prose this year, the Bad Sex in Fiction Award.
Authors who made it, and didn't
Suri need not have bothered. He is in august company. John Updike won a lifetime achievement award in 2008 while AA Gill, Norman Mailer, Tom Wolfe and Rachel Johnson are among past winners.
In 2012, Nancy Huston clinched the award for such descriptions as "flesh, that archaic kingdom that brings forth tears and terrors, nightmares, babies and bedazzlements", and "my sex swimming in joy like a fish in water" in her book Infrared.
The one who wanted it
The honourable mention here is Alastair Campbell. He was shortlisted for his book Maya in 2010. He was so enthusiastic about the award that the Literary Review decided not to give it to him on account that it will encourage him to write even more clumsy sex scenes.
Rowan Somerville with his book The Shape of Her defeated him with one well placed line: "like a lepidopterist mounting a tough-skinned insect with a too blunt pin he screwed himself into her".