December 10, 2020

Bad Sex in Fiction Award is canceled


When you hear “Bad Sex in Fiction Award,” I promise you it’s not what you think … errr actually, it is. The British literary magazine known as the Literary Review has been giving out this roasting annual award since 1993. Each year one not-so-lucky author is selected who produced the most godawful description of a sex scene in a novel.

So what’s the point of this award? Is it just to poke fun at authors who made tasteless decisions in their writing? The answer is, yes—well, kind of—but there’s more to it. Literary critic Rhoda Koenig and Literary Review editor Auberon Waugh were the masterminds behind this not-so-prestigious “award.” According to them, the award was created with the intention of “drawing attention to the poorly written, redundant, or downright cringeworthy passages of sexual description in modern fiction.” So, in other words, if you’re an author planning on writing a sex scene, use this award as motivation to *not* write a bad one.

Now with some background history in your pocket, you’re probably wondering, “Why on earth is this award being CANCELED?” And we get it, because that was our ultra-dramatic spit-out-your-coffee-mid-sip reaction too. This year, the Bad Sex in Fiction Award is canceled and that’s a fact. Accept it. 2020 has been hard enough— for one, the COVID-19 global pandemic, but also George Floyd’s murder and other acts of police brutality, the wrath of destructive wildfires, the economy plummeting, President Trump being, well, President Trump (need we say more?), the postponement of the Olympics … We’ll stop there because the continuing list just becomes increasingly more depressing.

That being said, the judges of this humiliating award decided to contribute one less negative thing to the universe this year. For that, we’ll give them a *virtual* pat on the back. However, in cheeky spirit, they did say, “the cancellation of the 2020 awards should not be taken as a license to write bad sex.” We couldn’t help but chuckle at this.

*raises glass in comfy, at-home sweats* Here’s to 2021 being a better year for all of us, and to hopefully seeing the Bad Sex in Fiction Award make a feisty come back.

Allison Green is the social media manager at Melville House.