Luxurious Desultory Twining

Posted on by David Gelber

The ultimate purpose of what is now only the second least reputable literary prize going is to render itself redundant by discouraging poorly written, gratuitous or unnecessary passages of sexual description in fiction. Sadly, the fact that this year’s thicket of smut is as dense as ever shows that the award has not yet fulfilled […]

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Fifty Shades of Frey

Posted on by Tom Fleming

As the nights draw in, the Bad Sex in Fiction Award judges rise wearily from their beds and set about sifting through the worst passages of sexual description in the year’s novels. The brief remains the same: to highlight the poorly written, gratuitous or downright redundant. The hallmarks of ‘bad sex’, such as they are, […]

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Making Sweet Assemblage

Posted on by David Gelber

With the advent of this year’s Bad Sex in Fiction Award, the time-honoured question of just what merits consideration by the judging panel has once more arisen. Is Monique Roffey’s The Tryst eligible for the award, for instance? It features a petite succubus and is brimful of such lines as ‘There I was, luminescent, naked, […]

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‘To the audacious swell below’

Posted on by David Gelber

Among the first entries this year for the Bad Sex in Fiction Award were Ian McEwan’s Nutshell (possibly the first passage of sexual description told from the point of view of a foetus) and Eimear McBride’s The Lesser Bohemians. Both were dismissed for being too well written to qualify. Another entry, Jonathan Safran Foer’s Here […]

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The Hunting of the Kundalini

Posted on by Frank Brinkley

This magazine’s Bad Sex in Fiction Award has never shied away from speaking truth to power as well as literary celebrity. Alastair Campbell is a two-time nominee and Tony Blair was touted for an account in his memoirs of feral sex with Cherie. This year’s most newsworthy erotic piece of writing concerned animals more domestic: […]

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Twitching Fairy Penguin

Posted on by Frank Brinkley

The Man Booker Prize, the Pulitzer Prize, the Franz Kafka Prize, the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize, the PEN/Faulkner Award – just some of the accolades won by this year’s Literary Review Bad Sex in Fiction Award nominees, arguably the most distinguished shortlist ever assembled. The prize is intended to draw attention to poorly written, perfunctory or […]

Hours of Pleasure

Posted on by Jonathan Beckman

‘Impossible.’ Thus spake Martin Amis at the Cheltenham Literature Festival in October: ‘Very few writers have got anywhere with sex.’ Nominees for the Bad Sex in Fiction Award seem to have viewed this long history of failure more as a challenge than an admonition. Andrew Motion, chairman this year of the equally prestigious Man Booker […]

Bad Sex Report 2009

Posted on by Jonathan Beckman

These awards were inaugurated in 1993. Their purpose is to highlight and gently discourage redundant, poorly written or unnecessarily pornographic descriptions of sex in fiction. It is irrelevant if the sex described is bad, unsuccessful or embarrassing for the characters involved; in fact the best, most mind-blowing sex often produces the worst writing, typically a […]

Bad Sex Report 2011

Posted on by Jonathan Beckman

Pity the poor fund managers at the Man Group. Not only has their share price tumbled this year more quickly than News International’s reputation, but the prizes that they sponsor have been submerged in controversy. First, the Man Booker International Prize garlanded Philip Roth, only for one of the judges to announce belatedly that reading […]

Helpless Dollops of Custard

Posted on by Jonathan Beckman

Were there any books purchased this year that weren’t furnished with sex dungeons, spanking paraphernalia and a hard-bodied, emotionally crippled oligarch, in whom the urge to punish struggles desperately with the urge to dispense health and safety advice about what to do if the nipple clamps have been applied a little too tightly? Fifty Shades […]

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Like Crystal Ladybirds

Posted on by Frank Brinkley

Literary Review’s Bad Sex in Fiction Award is now 21 years old, making it one of the more venerable literary prizes around. How we long to slump back in a cosy pair of slippers, with a mug of Ovaltine and a cheroot, having rendered ourselves redundant by deterring prospective novelists – as was this prize’s […]

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RLF - March