Literary descriptions of sex veer from the erotic to the downright weird and many are more likely to provoke laughter than titillation. Each year, the writers who have failed most dismally are given a nod by the book mag.

In the words of the Literary Review, the Bad Sex Award aims to, “draw attention to the crude, tasteless, often perfunctory use, or redundant passages of sexual description in the modern novel and to discourage it”.

Here are some of this year’s nominees.

Renowned author Haruki Murakami has landed himself a place on the list with gems such as: “[Her breasts] seemed to be virtually uninfluenced by the force of gravity, the nipples turned beautifully upward, like a vine’s new tendrils seeking sunlight.”

And also: “I’m still erect now, and it shows no sign of subsiding. Neither Sonny and Cher nor three-digit multiplication nor complex mathematics had managed to bring it down.”

Horror writer Stephen King has also been nominated for cringe-inducing passages like this:

‘She said, “Don’t make me wait, I’ve had enough of that,” and so I kissed the sweaty hollow of her temple and moved my hips forward … She gasped, retreated a little, then raised her hips to meet me. “Sadie? All right?”

“Ohmygodyes,” she said and I laughed. She opened her eyes and looked up at me with curiosity and hopefulness. “Is it over, or is there more?”

“A little more,” I said. “I don’t know how much. I haven’t been with a woman in a long time.’

David Guterson, who penned Snow Falling On Cedars, earned his nod with: “In the shower, Ed stood with his hands at the back of his head, like someone just arrested, while she abused him with a bar of soap.”

The Bad Sex Award regularly pulls up big-name, well respected authors for their poor descriptions of the carnal act. In the past, Melyvn Bragg, A. A Gill and Sebastian Faulks have all won awards.

Tony Blair hit the headlines when he was nominated for a scene in his memoir in which he describes sex with his wife, Cherie:

”That night she cradled me in her arms and soothed me; told me what I needed to be told; strengthened me. On that night of 12 May 1994, I needed that love Cherie gave me, selfishly. I devoured it to give me strength. I was an animal following my instinct.”


A particular favourite of ours is 2004 winner Siddharth Dhanvant Shangvi who penned the masterpiece: “Was it on the bed that she sat on him, her weasel-like loins clutching and unclutching his lovely, long, louche manhood, as though squeezing an orange for its juice?”

Last year the Bad Sex Award was scooped by Rowan Somerville who tantalised readers with: “Like a lepidopterist mounting a tough-skinned insect with a too blunt pin he screwed himself into her.”

But before you feel too sorry for the authors, the unwanted accolade does, in fact, tend to boost sales.

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