Literary Review’s 2009 Bad Sex in Fiction Prize Winner Announced

November 30, 2009

I’m not certain if I can justify this posting as in any way representing the future of publishing, but I know that I can’t resist reporting on it.

November cover

As noted on the publication’s web site, “The Literary Review Bad Sex in Fiction Award was inaugurated by [Evelyn Waugh’s son] Auberon Waugh in 1993 to ‘draw attention to the crude, tasteless, often perfunctory use of redundant passages of sexual description in the modern novel, and to discourage it’. The prize is not intended to cover pornographic or expressly erotic literature, and is limited to the literary novel.” (One of the nominees John Banville, shortlisted this year for some vividly-evoked action in The Infinities, told the Irish Writers Centre that, since this is his second nomination, he may “steer clear” of sex henceforth, so perhaps this does represent some clue to the future of publishing after all.)

According to the UK’s Guardian site, the winner was Jonathan Littell for his novel, The Kindly Ones. Excerpts from this year’s nominees are available here. I found some earlier ones on the Guardian.

The prize is variously described as “a ‘semi-abstract trophy representing sex in the 1950s,’ which depicts a naked woman draped over an open book,” and as “a statuette and a bottle of champagne” (in the New York Times).

Not coveted, but surely an important award.

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