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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Literary Review's Bad Sex in Fiction Award

That's right. You didn't misread it. There's a Bad Sex in Fiction award, it's been going for fifteen years, and the winner was just announced for this year! John Updike's The Widows of Eastwick, Paulo Coehlo's Brida, and Russell Bank's The Reserve all made the shortlist. Alistair Campbell's first novel All in the Mind was the critics' favorite for this year. It was, however, Rachel Johnson's novel Shire Hell that took the prize and joined the ranks of such illustrious writers as Norman Mailer, Ian Hollingshead, Tom Wolfe, A.A. Gill, and Sebastian Faulks. But don't worry, Updike was awarded the lifetime achievement award for having been nominated four times in a row without actually winning. He was not present to receive his award.

The award was presented, appropriately, at the In and Out club in London on Tuesday night. Johnson is the 16th winner of the award, established by Literary Review editor Auberon Waugh "with the aim of gently dissuading authors and publishers from including unconvincing, perfunctory, embarrassing or redundant passages of a sexual nature in otherwise sound literary novels." Johnson seems to be looking at the upside of this award, however, in being included among some literary giants and to be getting any attention at all—even "dubious" attention. She accepted the trophy, a plaster foot, before 400 attendants.

For a taste of the competition (i.e. how not to write a sex scene) go to The Guardian and enjoy! Or cringe. Whatever comes first.

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