Literary Review’s Bad Sex in Fiction Award

Each year since 1993, the Bad Sex in Fiction Award has honoured an author who has produced an outstandingly bad scene of sexual description in an otherwise good novel. The purpose of the prize is to draw attention to poorly written, perfunctory or redundant passages of sexual description in modern fiction, and to discourage them. The prize is not intended to cover pornographic or expressly erotic literature.

The Award was established by Rhoda Koenig, a literary critic, and Auberon Waugh, at that time editor of Literary Review.

The winner of the 23rd Bad Sex in Fiction Award

Morrissey has won the 23rd annual Literary Review Bad Sex in Fiction Award for List of the Lost Morrissey-List-Of-The-Lost-novel-book-cover-September-2015-373x560
(Penguin). The prize was presented by the lawyer, columnist and performer Nancy Dell’Olio.

The award was announced at a lavish ceremony on Tuesday 1 December 2015 at the In & Out (Naval & Military) Club in St James’s Square, London, where the 400 guests raised a toast to the winner.

List of the Lost is Morrissey’s debut novel. His memoir, Autobiography, was released by Penguin Classics in 2013. List of the Lost follows four Boston relay runners who are cursed by an old man in the woods. The judges were swayed by an ecstatic scene involving Ezra, one of the athletes, and his plucky girlfriend, Eliza: ‘At this, Eliza and Ezra rolled together into the one giggling snowball of full-figured copulation, screaming and shouting as they playfully bit and pulled at each other in a dangerous and clamorous rollercoaster coil of sexually violent rotation with Eliza’s breasts barrel-rolled across Ezra’s howling mouth and the pained frenzy of his bulbous salutation extenuating his excitement as it whacked and smacked its way into every muscle of Eliza’s body except for the otherwise central zone.’

Morrissey rose to fame in the 1980s as the lyricist and frontman of The Smiths, before launching a lauded solo career spanning ten studio albums to date.

Morrissey was unable to attend due to touring commitments and was unavailable for comment. As he explains in List of the Lost: ‘Sex was always there – everywhere photographically, in print, in film, so expansively thought about that almost nothing more could need to be said about it…’

List of the Lost prevailed over competition from a vibrant and varied shortlist, including The Martini Shot, by the celebrated screenwriter of The Wire, George Pelecanos (‘She stroked my pole and took off my briefs, and I got between her and spread her muscular thighs with my knees and rubbed myself against her until she was wet as a waterslide’); Joshua Cohen’s Book of Numbers (‘Her mouth was intensely ovoid, an almond mouth, of citrus crescents. And under that sling, her breasts were like young fawns, sheep frolicking in hyssop – Psalms were about to pour out of me’); and Fear of Dying, by the creator of the ‘zipless fuck’, Erica Jong (‘While I lie next to him, astounded by his presence still, he opens my silk robe and touches my cunt as if he were Adam just discovering Eve’s pussy’).

Bad Sex 2015

erica-jong-fear-of-dying-cover-244Books nominated so far for the 23rd Bad Sex in Fiction Award include Before, During, After by Richard Bausch, Book of Numbers by Joshua Cohen, Against Nature by Tomas Espedal, Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff, The Making of Zombie Wars by Aleksandar Hemon, Fear of Dying by Erica Jong, List of the Lost by Morrissey, and The Martini Shot by George Pelecanos.

The books in question demonstrate the rude health of modern fiction. Morrissey’s appearance represents the first time an author from the distinguished Penguin Classics stable has made it onto the shortlist. This year’s authors also include a celebrated screenwriter of The Wire (Pelecanos) and a writer well known for her exploration of female desire (Jong).

Michael Ashcroft and Isabel Oakeshott’s Call Me Dave was brought to the judges’ attention because of its suggestion that ‘the future PM inserted a private part of his anatomy into the animal’s mouth’. That assertion was so flimsily corroborated as to resemble fiction but, regrettably, the biographers displayed insufficient literary brio to merit serious consideration.

The winner of this year’s award will be announced on Tuesday 1 December.

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