The 22nd annual Bad Sex in Fiction award, lauded as “Britain’s most dreaded literary prize,” strikes again, among the victims, a host of high profile writers—former Pulitzer winner Michael Cunningham, previous Booker winner Ben Okri, prominent BBC journalist, Kirsty Wark, the lauded Haruki Murakami, and Richard Flanagan, for his Booker-winning novel The Narrow Road to the Deep North—which seems to prove, that writing fictitious sex is difficult for even the most talented of writers. The Guardian quotes last year shortlisted author, William Nicholson, on what it’s like to receive this ignoble award:
“there’s something uniquely dismaying about this particular criticism. . . . As well as questioning my talent as a writer, it questions my understanding of sex itself. To write bad sex, I must be either cynical, as a pornographer is cynical, or naive.”
The Literary Review claims their prize is to “draw attention to poorly written, perfunctory or redundant passages of sexual description in modern fiction” in order to discourage them.
For entertaining snippets from the shortlist, follow the Literary Review’s twitter account @lit_review.
Winners will be announced on December 3rd. See the shortlisters below:
The Affairs of Others, by Amy Grace Loyd
Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage, by Haruki Murakami
Desert God, by Wilbur Smith
The Hormone Factory, by Saskia Goldschmidt
The Legacy of Elizabeth Pringle, by Kirsty Wark
The Lemon Grove, by Helen Walsh
The Narrow Road to the Deep North, by Richard Flanagan
The Snow Queen, by Michael Cunningham
Things to Make and Break, by May-Lan Tan