Yes, eighteenth annual The Literary Review Bad Sex in Fiction Award has just been announced. Jonathan Franzen narrowly escaped the pseudo-prestigious prize, as did Alaistair Campbell (former UK primer minister Tony Blair´s spokesman). The winner will join the ranks of former lucky writers, such as Tom Wolfe, Norman Mailer, John Updike and Jonathan Littell. Not such a bad company, now is it? Better to hang with the best group of awkward sex-writers than the worse of the worst Harlequin-dreamers.( Not that there is anything wrong with a few Harlequin-novel quickies after an exhausting week in the boiler room, kill room, cave, cubicle -however you might call it during those long afternoon hours. )
The annual prize was set up in 1993 " to draw attention to the crude, tasteless, often perfunctory use of redundant passages of sexual description in the modern novel, and to discourage it". Hmm, redundant, discourage. Did I mention that this a British phenomenon? Of course it is. "Pornographic or expressly erotic works are excluded from the contest. " Well, of course they are. These are British, after all. If you want raunchy, you can go all overboard, but no hints, no teases, no taste of the forbidden. Please. Remember your manners!
And who was the winner? A fellow named Rowan Somerville on his work "The Shape of Her". Somerville was cheeky enough to accept prize with a statement: " There is nothing more English than Bad Sex, so on behalf of the entire nation I would like to thank you." See? He gets it. He totally gets it.
Interestingly, "The Economist" gave the book a shiningly good review, when it was published: "A musical novel, finely plotted".
Let´s enjoy some of the highlights on Somerville´s winning poetic mind:
"A woman´s nipple is upturned like the nose of the loveliest nocturnal animal, sniffing in the night"
"Max´s lovemaking is like a lepidopterist mounting a touch-skinned insect with a too blunt pin"