UK’s Bad Sex in Fiction Award celebrates 20 years

By Agence France-Presse
Tuesday, December 4, 2012 15:57 EDT
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Tom Wolfe, pictured here in November 2012 (AFP)
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One unlucky author was due to be awarded Britain’s “most dreaded literary prize” on Tuesday for the most cringeworthy erotic description penned in 2012.

After the “mummy porn” phenomenon gripped the literary world — with “Fifty Shades of Grey” topping international best-seller lists — eight writers are on the shortlist in the not-so-prestigious Bad Sex in Fiction Award’s 20th year.

They include Paul Mason, who offended judges by comparing his lustful hero to “a forlorn circus rider” in debut novel “Rare Earth”, and Nicola Barker for describing a lover in her novel “The Yips” as a “hungry finch” in an orchard.

Despite widespread calls on social networking sites for it to be added to the shortlist, E.L. James’ sado-masochistic romance “Fifty Shades” is not in the running as the prize does not cover “expressly erotic literature”.

“The purpose of the prize is to draw attention to the crude, badly written, often perfunctory use of redundant passages of sexual description in the modern novel, and to discourage it,” said the Literary Review magazine, which runs the award.

“…literary Review is proud to continue its gentle chastisement of the worst excesses of the literary novel.”

Octogenerian US author Tom Wolfe is up for the dubious honour for a second time with “Back to Blood”, a tale of race and sex in Miami.

It is also not the first time that Nicholas Coleridge and Craig Raine — shortlisted for “The Adventuress” and “The Divine Comedy” respectively — have found themselves in the running.

The other books on the shortlist were “Infrared” by Nancy Huston, “Noughties” by Ben Masters and “The Quiddity Of Will Self” by Sam Mills.

The judges gave lengthy consideration to the first adult novel by Harry Potter author JK Rowling, “The Casual Vacancy”, but eventually decided “the book’s sins were venal compared with the competition”.

Former Literary Review editor Auberon Waugh, son of the late novelist Evelyn Waugh, founded the prize in 1993 because he believed authors were encouraged to write sex scenes by their publishers to boost book sales.

Agence France-Presse
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