Bad sex in fiction award: Here are authors who wrote the biggest turnoffs this year

The award aims to “draw attention to poorly written, perfunctory or redundant passages of sexual description in modern fiction”.

books Updated: Nov 24, 2017 13:03 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Bad sex in fiction award,Literary Review,Erotic novels
The Bad Sex in Fiction award will be announced on November 30. (Representative image )

They might be award-winning or best-selling authors, but they need to sharpen their pencils for writing erotic scenes.

As a God Might Be by Neil Griffiths, The Future Won’t Be Long by Jarett Kobek and War Cry by Wilbur Smith (with David Churchill) are among the nominees for the Bad Sex in Fiction award this year.

Introduced in 1993 by the Literary Review, the award aims to “draw attention to poorly written, perfunctory or redundant passages of sexual description in modern fiction”.

The Review said it had also considered nominating American novelist Jonathan Safran Foer for his third novel, Here I am, for lines like this one:

“He jerked off with the determination of someone within sight of Everest’s summit, having lost all his friends and Sherpas, having run out of supplemental oxygen, but preferring death to failure.”

Similes with mountainous disruptions and avalanches was common to another shortlisted book, The Destroyers by Christopher Bollen.

“On the stone porch, in the hot, mountain air, we grapple with our clothing, which, in the darkness, becomes as complicated as mountaineering gear... we seem to be moving at avalanche speed and also, unfortunately, with avalanche precision.” 

Another unusual contestant nominated was Donald Trump’s “locker room talk” but it was put aside simply on the grounds that it wasn’t fiction. Trump was heard talking about “grabbing” women in a tape released during the divisive 2016 US presidential campaign.

The 2016 Bad Sex in Fiction award was given to Italian novelist and poet Erri De Luca -- called “writer of the decade” by a critic -- for his book, The Day Before Happiness. Judges were swayed by a sex scene between a mysterious woman and the protagonist, and said, “The winning entry is a reminder that, even in the wake of Brexit, Bad Sex knows no borders.”

De Luca’s description of sex read:

“My prick was a plank stuck to her stomach. With a swerve of her hips, she turned me over and I was on top of her. She opened her legs, pulled up her dress and, holding my hips over her, pushed my prick against her opening. I was her plaything, which she moved around. Our sexes were ready, poised in expectation, barely touching each other: ballet dancers hovering en pointe.”

The other shortlisted books are The Seventh Function of Language by Laurent Binet, Mother of Darkness by Venetia Welby, and Here Comes Trouble by Simon Wroe.

This year’s prize will be announced on November 30.

First Published: Nov 24, 2017 11:19 IST