Erri De Luca has won the 24th annual Literary Review Bad Sex in Fiction Award for The Day Before Happiness (Allen Lane).
The award was announced at a lavish ceremony on Wednesday 30 November at the In & Out (Naval & Military) Club in St James’s Square, London, where the 400 guests raised a toast to the winner.
The Corriere della Sera has hailed De Luca as ‘the writer of the decade’. He has won countless prizes, including, in 2013, the European Prize for Literature, presented to an author for a body of work ‘which best represents the cultural dimensions of Europe’. The judges of the Bad Sex in Fiction Award were swayed by a scene between the Neapolitan orphan protagonist and a mysterious woman he has watched from afar: ‘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.’
De Luca was unable to attend the ceremony and unavailable for comment. The judges said in a statement: ‘This adds a further accolade to De Luca’s already distinguished list of achievements. The winning entry is a reminder that, even in the wake of Brexit, Bad Sex knows no borders.’
The Day Before Happiness prevailed over fierce competition. The shortlist also included A Doubter’s Almanac by Iowa Writing Workshop teacher Ethan Canin (‘The act itself was fervent. Like a brisk tennis game or a summer track meet, something performed in daylight between competitors. The cheap mattress bounced’); Tom Connolly’s Men Like Air (‘Often she cooked exotic meals and put chillies or spices in her mouth while preparing the food and sucked him while the food cooked and then told him to fuck her while his manhood was burning rock-hard with fire.’); and The Butcher’s Hook, by former Blue Peter presenter Janet Ellis (‘I am pinned like wet washing with his peg’).