2009 has been a year of cringingly cheesy and often physically implausible coitus, in books of course, and to celebrate the Literary Review has posted its annual shortlist for the bad sex in fiction award. Auberon Waugh instituted the prize back in 1993 with the aim of naming, shaming and ultimately discouraging authors from excessive literary romping. Melvin Bragg won the inaugural award with A time to dance and Rachel Johnson last year gained the dubious distinction of being only the second female winner with her novel Shire Hell.
The bad sex award has for many authors become a bit of a badge of honour, 2009 short-listee Richard Milward said “I’ve been there before and I’ll be there again .. There’s so much bad sex in my book that this is a nice accolade…Sex is exciting stuff – it can be vey dirty and smelly, but you’ve just got to get stuck in, and I’m not afraid of doing that.” Indeed Mr “manky” Milward!
The short-list contains some unlikely names including Booker prize winner John Banville. Banville is better known for the lyrical descriptive qualities of his novels rather than louche or lurid love scenes, but he also writes noir mysteries under the name Benjamin Black so perhaps he is gearing up for a third career as a scribe of bonktastic bodice-rippers. Esteemed American novelist Philip Roth also makes it onto the list but having read Roth’s Sabbath’s theater several years ago and still carrying the mental scars this comes as no surprise to me. The winner/fiction filth-meister is announced on November 30th, we’ll keep you posted!
The full uncensored, X-Rated short list is:
- Paul Theroux for A Dead Hand
- Nick Cave for The Death of Bunny Munro
- Philip Roth for The Humbling
- Jonathan Littell for The Kindly Ones
- Amos Oz for Rhyming Life and Death
- John Banville for The Infinities
- Anthony Quinn for The Rescue Man
- Simon Van Booy for Love Begins in Winter
- Sanjida O’Connell for The Naked Name of Love
- Richard Milward for Ten Storey Love Song