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Why we love bad sex

Every year, The Literary Review hands out the ‘Bad Sex in Fiction Award’ to the writer who produces the worst description of a sex scene in a novel, writes Steven Baker.

entertainment Updated: Sep 20, 2008 14:21 IST

Every year, The Literary Review hands out the ‘Bad Sex in Fiction Award’ to the writer who produces the worst description of a sex scene in a novel. Indian scribes seem to do particularly well in this event. Hang your head in shame, Salman Rushdie.



In recent years, Shalimar the Clown gained a nod for this most dreaded of literary prizes. “...Let’s, you know, caress each other in five places and kiss in seven ways and make out in nine positions, but let’s not get carried away.” Stop, stop. Enough already.



Reason why we can forgive the bad sex? Sir Rushdie’s collection of Booker prizes and book bannings has put Indian literati on the world map. Bombay boy Siddharth Dhanvant Shanghvi gained the Next Big Thing tag when The Last Song of Dusk spent two months at the top of bestseller lists. But that didn’t spare him from nomination.



“Was it on the bed that she sat on him, her weasel-like loins clutching and unclutching his lovely, long, louche manhood, as though squeezing an orange for its juice?” Please, no more, it’s putting me off my lunch. Reason why we can forgive the bad sex? Model looks, literary talent, and a writer who not only writes about sex, but seemingly has copious amounts of it. Once asked in an interview about his plans for a follow-up to LSD, Shanghvi stated, “Writing is so utterly boring. I’d much rather conduct a love affair. That’s where the real story is...” Gregory David Roberts is not technically an Indian writer.



But Shantaram’s familiar red and blue cover of the Mumbai skyline is as desi as it comes; and Mira Nair is directing the film adaptation, of course. “I was hers. She was mine. My body was her chariot, and she drove it into the sun. Her body was my river, and I became the sea.” How is Ms Nair going to picturise this purple prose? Reason why we can forgive the bad sex? For writing a story that has Johnny Depp sharing screen space with Amitabh Bachchan.



Most of us know Aniruddha Bahal as a hard-hitting hack, exposing everything from match fixing to political corruption. But did you know, Noida-based Bahal not only got nominated for, but scooped the first prize for his novel Bunker 13?



“She picks up a Bugatti’s momentum. You want her more at a Volkswagen’s steady trot. Squeeze the maximum mileage out of your gallon of gas. But she’s eating up the road with all cylinders blazing.” Quick, stop the car, I’m going to be sick. No wonder, petrol prices are so high. Reason why we can forgive the bad sex?



When collecting his award in London, Bahal said he was happy to accept an award for sexually explicit writing because in India there was too much censorship.