Funny but dubious honour

Leave it to the British to give an award for Bad Sex in Fiction! The 18th annual (dis)honour, given out last night, went to Rowan Somerville for his novel The Shape of Her.

Somerville won over the judges with phrases such as the one describing an act of lovemaking as being “like a lepidopterist mounting a tough-skinned insect with a too blunt pin.” The Guardian reported more of “the naughtiest bits” and shared amusing commentary, including about the suspected sex life of the judges.

The award is given each year by the British Literary Review and was established in 1993 by the late British author Auberon Waugh to “draw attention to the crude, tasteless, and often perfunctory use of redundant passages of sexual description in contemporary novels, and to discourage it.” No word on what prompted “Bron” to do this.

Graciously accepting his award, Somerville said, “There is nothing more English than bad sex. So on behalf of the entire nation, I thank you.”

(If you think awards like this are funny, have you heard about the Bulwer-Lytton awards?)

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  1. Sue Ridewood
    Posted November 30, 2010 at 6:13 pm | Permalink

    I have British friends visiting right now. I will ask for their opinion on the “bad sex” label and report back! …and in a nod to the Bulwer-Lytton awards, again, I must say, I love this sentence: “Arm yourself, Watson, there is an evil hand afoot ahead.”

  2. Posted November 30, 2010 at 11:19 pm | Permalink

    Ooh, yes, do see what your guests have to say. And that line does crack me up too!

  3. Jeanette King
    Posted December 2, 2010 at 6:16 pm | Permalink

    A book blog in The Guardian is suggesting we need a Good Sex in Fiction award–“for good bad sex, good great sex and good sex of the middling variety.” It argues that sex is too often idealized in books: “Earth-moving, transcendental, simultaneously-orgasmic sex is far more common in the history of the world’s storytelling than is an awkward, exhausted and querulous quickie between setting the alarm and getting up to calm the baby.” Sure wish I’d thought to write that!

  4. Posted December 2, 2010 at 11:03 pm | Permalink

    Well, sure – fictional sex HAS to be earth-moving! We’re reading for entertainment, right? That’s a great line, “a querulous quickie…”

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