One-Minute Book Reviews

November 30, 2009

Jonathan Littell Wins 2009 Bad Sex in Fiction Award — Read All the Shortlisted Passages Here

Filed under: News — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 8:17 pm
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Is it a coincidence that the winner of annual Bad Sex in Fiction Award is typically named in England at about the time Americans are thinking of turkeys? If so, the judges aren’t saying, but the Literary Review in the U.K. announced today that Jonathan Littell has taken top honors this year for a passage from The Kindly Ones, which defeated work by Philip Roth, Paul Theroux, Amos Oz and others. You can read Littell’s winner and all the shortlisted passages here.


  1. Well, it has always been said that sex should be fun… And with these authors, it is!

    Comment by questionof — December 2, 2009 @ 5:18 am | Reply

  2. Ah, an up-and-comer pulls the upset on Philip Roth. The incorporation of a guillotine looks to have been a winning strategy.

    Comment by pseudoswashbuckler — December 2, 2009 @ 6:40 pm | Reply

    • Amazing how creative some those writers are, isn’t it? Clearly where some of the shortlisted authors go wrong is that they try too hard to make sex “new.” Wonder if that guillotine is a first in recent literary fiction :).

      Comment by 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom — December 3, 2009 @ 2:02 pm | Reply

  3. According to Jonathan Beckman at the Literary Review…[the bad sex award was] set up by 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 award itself strikes me as being fairly tongue-in-cheek, but that quote makes the founder sound like something of a prude. I was listening to Norman Mailer talk to Michael Silverblatt on “Bookworm” the other day, and he was talking about how sex, excrement, etc., are things we all encounter, things not to be shied away from, but are instead to be explored. I must say that some of my favorite novelists seem to enjoy indulging in erotic depictions: John Updike, Philip Roth, to name a couple… In fact, some of our greatest writers seem to be nominated more often than lousy writers… just interesting to me.

    Comment by bippityboppityboom — December 11, 2009 @ 6:36 pm | Reply

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