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Prepare to cringe: US author wins the Bad Sex in Fiction Award - and it's bad

How bad can sex writing be? Pretty bad, judging by this year’s entries to the Bad Sex in Fiction Award.

Facepalm. Yes, these sex scenes are that bad.
Facepalm. Yes, these sex scenes are that bad.
Image: Alex Proimos via Creative Commons

IT IS POSSIBLY the world’s least-coveted  literary prize.

American writer David Guterson has had the honour – or dishonour – of winning this year’s Bad Sex in Fiction Award at a ceremony in London last night.

Guterson’s book ‘Ed King’ was described as a ‘sweaty-palmed narrative’ by the Washington Post, and contains several pages of explicit descriptions of sex.

According to the BBC, the judges decided to give the award to Guterson due to paragraphs such as this one:

Ed stood with his hands at the back of his head, like someone just arrested, while she abused him with a bar of soap… Then they rinsed, dried, dressed, and went to an expensive restaurant for lunch.

In another part of the book which was singled out by the judge, a mother has sex with her son:

She took him by the wrist and moved the base of his hand into her pubic hair until his middle fingertip settled on the no-man’s-land between her ‘front parlour’ and ‘back door’ (those were the quaint, prudish terms of her girlhood).

The award was announced at a prize-giving in London last night where the award was presented by Eastenders star Barbara Windsor. The American writer was unable to attend but according to the Guardian, said that he was “not in the least bit surprised”.

Guterson beat an all-male shortlist, including some strong competition from Haruki Murakami’s novel 1Q84 which contains the memorable line: “A freshly made ear and a freshly made vagina look very  much alike, Tengo thought.”

Guterson also beat horror novelist Stephen King, whose novel 11.22.63 contains this immortal description of mid-coitus appreciation: “At the end she began to gasp. Oh dear, oh my dear, oh my dear dear God, oh sugar!”

The award was established in 1993 by writer Auberon Waugh to highlight the “crude, tasteless and often perfunctory use of redundant passages of sexual description in contemporary novels”.  Previous winners include Tom Wolfe, AA Gill and Norman Mailer.

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