November 20, 2015

The best of the worst honored in this year’s Bad Sex Awards



Bad sex is a literary sin.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Literary Review has announced the finalists for the best literary prize around: the Bad Sex Awards.

The Bad Sex Awards have taken place every year since 1993, with the purpose of honoring “an author who has produced an outstandingly bad scene of sexual description in an otherwise good novel.” Previous winners include Ben Okri, Norman Mailer and Sebastian Faulks; John Updike won a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2008.

This year’s nominated books are Before, During, After by Richard Bausch, Book of Numbers by Joshua Cohen, Against Nature by Tomas Espedal, Fates and Furies by Lauren GroffThe Making of Zombie Wars by Aleksandar HemonFear of Dying by Erica Jong, List of the Lost by Morrissey, and The Martini Shot by George Pelecanos.

Morrissey’s List of the Lost was universally panned upon publication, so it follows that it would end up on this list. The magazine’s editors note:

The books in question demonstrate the rude health of modern fiction. Morrissey’s appearance represents the first time an author from the distinguished Penguin Classics stable has made it onto the shortlist. This year’s authors also include a celebrated screenwriter of The Wire (Pelecanos) and a writer well known for her exploration of female desire (Jong).

But just how bad is the bad sex in the above-mentioned novels? Here are some extracts, courtesy of The Guardian:

List of the Lost by Morrissey:

At this, Eliza and Ezra rolled together into the one giggling snowball of full-figured copulation, screaming and shouting as they playfully bit and pulled at each other in a dangerous and clamorous rollercoaster coil of sexually violent rotation with Eliza’s breasts barrel-rolled across Ezra’s howling mouth and the pained frenzy of his bulbous salutation extenuating his excitement as it whacked and smacked its way into every muscle of Eliza’s body except for the otherwise central zone.

Book of Numbers by Joshua Cohen:

Her mouth was intensely ovoid, an almond mouth, of citrus crescents. And under that sling, her breasts were like young fawns, sheep frolicking in hyssop – Psalms were about to pour out of me.


“Josh,” I said.

“Vous habillé.”

“Je vais me undressed, clothes off, unhabillé, déshab.”

Fear of Dying by Erica Jong:

I slip into bed, amazed that Asher is making the first move – which is unusual for him.

While I lie next to him, astounded by his presence still, he opens my silk robe and touches my cunt as if he were Adam just discovering Eve’s pussy.

‘Beautiful,’ he says.

And then he begins to run his tongue slowly along my labia, gently inserting one finger to feel for my G-spot on the front wall of wet pussy.

The magazine’s editors also gave an honorable mention to another notable title published this year:

Michael Ashcroft and Isabel Oakeshott’s Call Me Dave was brought to the judges’ attention because of its suggestion that ‘the future PM inserted a private part of his anatomy into the animal’s mouth.’ That assertion was so flimsily corroborated as to resemble fiction but, regrettably, the biographers displayed insufficient literary brio to merit serious consideration.

The winner will be announced on December 1st at London’s In and Out Club (pun intended).



Zeljka Marosevic is the managing director of Melville House UK.