The Literary Review's Bad Sex award was set up by the literary critic Rhoda Koenig and the late editor of the Literary Review, 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".
And the longlist in the award's 19th year —" a year in which literary awards have come under fire for parochialism and dumbing-down," the Literary Review said— has been greeted with traditional breathless excitement.
The Literary Review was its modest self when it said that it is " proud to uphold and recognise literary excellence from around the world. Authors in the running hail from, among other nations, the USA, Hungary, Japan and Australia. Two are annually mentioned in the same breath as the Nobel Prize"
- 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami (“A freshly made ear and a freshly made vagina look very much alike.”)
- On Canaan’s Side by Sebastian Barry (“We got rid of our damned clothes, and clung, and he was in me then.”)
- The Final Testament of the Holy Bible by James Frey (“Every part of my body sang some song I had never heard.”)
- Parallel Stories by Péter Nádas (“They hit gracefully on this exceedingly advantageous position.”)
- 11.22.63 by Stephen King (“Her head bonked on the door. ‘Ouch,’I said. ‘Are you all right?’”)
- Ed King by David Guterson (“At the moment of their mutual climax, Ed made sure Diane was on top.”)
- The Land of Painted Caves by Jean M Auel (“It surged up, until, with volcanic release, it engulfed them.”)
- The Affair by Lee Child (“Then faster and harder. Then we were panting. faster, harder, faster, harder.”)
- Dead Europe by Christos Tsiolkas (“My tongue furiously worked the craters.”)
- Outside the Ordinary World by Dori Ostermiller (“We’re part of the same organism: some outrageous sea creature.”)
- Everything Beautiful Began After by Simon Van Booy (“Henry reached up her thighs … as though quietly imploring.)
- The Great Night by Chris Adrian. (“His lady lifted to the stars on his impossibly stiff, impossibly elegant cock.”)
Last year's winner was Rowan Somerville's The Shape of Her with such sentences such as: "Like a lepidopterist mounting a tough-skinned insect with a too blunt pin he screwed himself into her" and a female body part “upturned like the nose of the loveliest nocturnal animal, sniffing the night” and how one character “twisted onto her belly like a fish flipping itself”. It beat stiff competition from Alastair Campbell's Maya in which a character imagined that "the walls were going to fall down as we stroked and screamed our way through hours of pleasure to the union for which my whole life had been a preparation."
The pulsating excitement is perhaps yet to reach a crescendo as the Literary Review says there is still time for more nominations and it won't subside till the winner of this year will be announced at a ceremony at London's Naval and Military Club, appropriately known as the In and Out, on 6 December.
Some of the choice excerpts. (Watch this space, as we hope to add more):
Haruki Murakami, 1Q84 trilogy:
He was naked when he awoke, and so was Fuka-Eri. Completely and totally naked. Her breasts were perfect hemispheres. Her nipples were not overly large, and they were soft, still quietly groping for the maturity that was to come. Her breasts themselves were large, however, and fully ripe. They seemed to be virtually uninfluenced by the force of gravity, the nipples turned beautifully upward, like a vine's new tendrils seeking sunlight. The next thing that Tengo became aware of was that Fuka-Eri had no pubic hair. ...
A freshly made ear and a freshly made vagina look very much alike, Tengo thought. Both appeared to be turned outward, trying to listen closely to something – something like a distant bell.
I was sleeping. Tengo realized. He had fallen asleep still erect. And even now he was firmly erect. Had the erection continued the whole time he was sleeping? Or was this a new erection, following the relaxation of the first (like Prime Minister So-and-So's Second Cabinet)? How long was I sleeping? But what's the difference? 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....
Having brought Tengo deep inside her, Fuka-Eri remained utterly still, as did Tengo, feeling himself deep inside of her. He remained incapable of moving his body, and she, eyes closed, perched on top of him like a lightning rod, stopped moving. He could see that her mouth was slightly open and her lips were making delicate, rippling movements as if groping in space to form some kind of words....
In the next second, Tengo realized that he was ejaculating. The violent spasm went on for several seconds, releasing a great deal of semen in a powerful surge. Where is my semen going? Tengo's garbled mind wondered. Ejaculating like this after school in a grade school classroom was not an appropriate thing to do. He could be in trouble if someone saw him. But this was not a grade school classroom anymore. Now he realized that he was inside Fuka-Eri, ejaculating toward her uterus. This was not something that he wanted to be doing. But he could not stop himself. Everything was happening beyond his control.
Sebastian Barry, On Canaan's Side
We were lying side by side one Sunday morning and with one accord, without real thought, with the simple instinct of ordinary human creatures, we turned to each other and gently kissed, then fiercely, like wakening beasts, and before we knew where we were, like a sudden walking storm down the lake that we had witnessed in the deeper weather, we seemed to go out into a stormy gear, we clutched at each other, we got rid of our damned clothes, and clung, and he was in me then, and we were happy, happy, young, in that room by the water, and the poetry that is available to anyone was available to us at last, and we breathed each other in, and in those moments both knew we would marry each other after all, and not a word needed to be spoken about it.
James Frey, The Final Testament of The Holy Bible
He said that if I wanted to see God, see God as he did, and in God's true form, he could show me. He told me to close my eyes, so I did. He moved his hands onto me and moved his body a little more and he stopped talking to me and I could feel his breath on my neck and my cheek. It built inside of me. God built up inside of me. And the more he moved, the more it built. And his breath felt hot and smelled sweet. And he kept moving, real slow, and moving real deep inside, and it built until I saw it and felt it. It was love, and joy, and pleasure, and every part of my body sang some song I had never heard but was the prettiest, most beautiful song ever, and it was blinding and pure and my brain went the whitest white ever, and I saw infinity, forever and ever, I saw infinity, and even understood it, and understood everything else in the world, all the hate and rage and death and passion and jealousy and murder, and none of them even mattered. I felt one hundred percent secure. I felt nothing bad. I saw the past and future. It was the greatest second of my life. Really the greatest, and I knew in that one second I was experiencing God. The real God. The true God. The eternal God. The God that can't be in a book or in a church or on a Sunday TV show or on a cross or a star. The God that can't be explained or described or written about or taught or preached. The God that can't be forced upon people or used to damn them. And I loved that God, that perfect amazing unbelievable true God. And I knew that none of the other Gods meant anything.
Peter Nádas, Parallel Stories
They were the secret semblances of each other.
If he did not want to slip out of her, he had to get on his knees between her spread thighs.
And if they hit gracefully on this exceedingly advantageous position, then finding it must have been the more important task.
Now he could not slip out of her.
No reason to worry about that: he was deep inside her....
Even though what he wanted was the woman's little ass.
He would have preferred to lick everything on it, or out of it.
To enjoy the humiliating service. To mix the saliva accumulated in his mouth with the mucous strong-smelling urine-spiced excretion that overflowed her cunt and in which he was now splashing about with his overhardened, aching cock as in a bottomless swamp of dead fish and yellow lilies in bloom. To reach inside it with his pointed tongue, to slide upward between the strong fleshy labia into her elongated vulva.
He scared himself with the image. He never dared to do it for more than brief moments, dip into it quickly, as with a spoon. To make discoveries about a woman via the qualities of her cavities....
As though with his tongue he could truly understand her fleshy labia. To stumble into the strong pointed arch of the pudendal cleft and then return to her deep vagina, to lick the dense bud of her clitoris all around, everything that is in such contrast to the airy lightness of her limbs and their movements, and where it is so hard to penetrate. To melt it all with his mouth, to dissolve the primal aroma in his mouth. And then to do the most meaningful thing: with a single unexpected movement turn her around and knock her on her stomach– so that his nose could hang into her arching, sweet little ass. To pry open the cheeks of her ass, lick her again her cunt spread open on the sheet, suck in and keep licking the brownish, wrinkled, tightly closed, and mildly shit-tasting asshole, sin itself, to commit the greatest sin, until it would blossom in the warmth of the sticky saliva dragged over from her cunt, so that with his cock he could enter there too. To do violence to the instinct of reproduction and to hand it over to finality, to beautiful death.
Stephen King, 11.22.63
She was wearing jeans. The fabric whispered under my palm. She leaned back and her head bonked on the door. 'Ouch!' I said. 'Are you all right?...
"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."
It turned out there was quite a bit more … At the end she began to gasp. "Oh dear, oh my dear, oh my dear dear God, oh sugar!"
David Guterson, Ed King:
How wonderful it was – wonderful and surprising – to be attracted to a guy, to want sex. Diane found, once she was naked with him, that there were things she really liked in his performance, including, foremost, that he was relentlessly, acutely, even obsessively servile. It was fine with Ed to spend a half-hour massaging her feet and squeezing her ankles, followed by nearly equal devoted caressing of her shins and calves; next, moving up, he gave substantial attention to her knees and thighs, and when, in her massage trance, she hoped and believed that his hands would surely go where they would do the most good, Ed didn't go there, he flipped her over instead and massaged, kneaded, stretched, rubbed, pinched, flicked, feathered, licked, kissed, and gently bit her shoulders, neck, back, and butt. Again she believed that he was on the verge of getting a hand between her legs, especially when, while massaging the small of her back, he found the tip of her tailbone. How long was he going to go on with the erotic massage and general body worship without getting to her quim? Would he please just go ahead and do something not frustrating? But she knew, before long, what he had to be waiting for. He was waiting for a display of need. So 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 parlor' and 'back door' (those were the quaint, prudish terms of her girlhood), she got him on the node between neighbouring needs (both of which had been explored by johns who almost never tarried). She gave him this particular sign, this clear permission, and he began a careful prodding of her perineum, which was as good a starting place as any for Diane, because it instigated those processes of memory her sexuality required. It triggered memories with the uncanny force of déjà vu, and what she thought of, as Ed slaved away, was a boy from her village who had fingered her adroitly in a greenhouse thick with green tomatoes....
The boy in the greenhouse was flawlessly adolescent and shockingly beautiful, and in his innocent way, he'd made her come resoundingly – Apollo with his modest marble membrum virile, otherwise known, in her village, as a skin flute. This memory sparkled as Ed intently suckled. They were both on their left sides now, Ed behind, where he'd pried her right shoulder back while deeply inserted and twisted his head so he could suckle away madly. He freed himself from her nipple after a long attachment so as to kiss her on the mouth at length – as if seeking to set the world record for kiss duration – and she smelled her breast on his breath, which was otherwise piquant with saliva, a little tart, a little bitter, and humid with the churning underworld – the raw metabolism and generative heat – beneath the flawless exterior. Jim Long's odor had been a little like Naugahyde, and his mouth, lips, and tongue had often tasted metallic (or, just as often, steeped in vermouth), whereas Ed smelled vulnerably digestive, warm-blooded, moist, and, just now, breast-fed. He smelled great, and she began to think, the way he was going at it now, that this was how he wanted to come– in her from behind, on one hip and elbow, contorted to kiss and with a hand between her legs. She was fine with that, would have welcomed it and joined him with a considerable bang, but what happened instead was that he pulled out at the last moment and, after turning her on her back, began yet another eternity of regional body worship, this one built around working his lips, tongue, and teeth down her rib cage and belly with that servility of his that was the flip side of masochism. To get Ed to burrow headfirst into her quim, Diane had to put her hands in his hair and, acknowledging her pressing need, press.
And here was another thing she really liked. The will to power that made him slavish in his attentions, dedicated to exploration, and responsive to response, also made him so lingual and labial that it spilled over to his nose, chin, and jaws; half of his face, nearly, was activated for her pleasure, and got slicked to a rough shine by his efforts. But – enough already. How much do we need? Or almost enough. Because it ought to be said that, at the moment of their mutual climax, Ed made sure Diane was on top, deliriously doing all the work.
These sorts of gyrations and five-sense choreographies, with variations on Ed's main themes, played out episodically between 10 p.m. and 10 a.m., when Diane said, 'Let's shower.'
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. After a while he shut his eyes, and Diane, wielding her fingernails now and starting at his face, helped him out with two practiced hands, one squeezing the family jewels, the other vigorous with the soap-and-warm-water treatment. It didn't take long for the beautiful and perfect Ed King to ejaculate for the fifth time in twelve hours, while looking like Roman public-bath statuary. Then they rinsed, dried, dressed, and went to an expensive restaurant for lunch.
Jean M Auel, The Land of Painted Caves
He reached for her hungrily, kissing her mouth and her neck and then her body with starved ardour. She was equally hungry, equally ardent, and reached for his body in almost desperate need. He kissed her again, slowly, felt the inside of her mouth with his tongue, then her neck, and reached for her breast with his hand then took the nipple into his mouth. She felt delicious jolts of pleasure race through her. It had been a long time since they had taken time to explore the Mother's Gift of Pleasure.
He sucked one nipple, then the other, and caressed her breasts. She felt sensations that reached deep inside the place that ached for him....
She felt as though she were melting into a pool of delight, as his hand reached for the soft fur of her mound and then put a finger at the top of her slit, and began to draw circles inside. When he reached the spot that sent bolts of shudders through her, she moaned and arched into them.
He went lower, found the entrance to her warm, wet cave and reached inside. She spread her legs to give him more access. He got up and moved between them, then lowered himself and tasted her. That was the taste he knew, the taste of Ayla that he loved. With both hands he spread her petals wide and licked her with his warm tongue, explored her clefts and crevices until he found the nodule that had hardened a little. She felt each movement as a delicious flash of fire as the desire inside her grew. She was no longer conscious of anything except Jondalar and the mounting surge of exquisite Pleasure he made her feel.
His manhood had swelled to its fullness and strove for release. Her breathing quickened, each breath coming with a groan, until suddenly she reached a peak, and felt herself well up and overflow. He felt her warm wetness, then pulled back and entered her welcoming depths and plunged in deeply. She was ready for him, and arched to take him in. As he felt his member slide into her warm and welcoming well, he groaned with the Pleasure. It had been so long, or so it seemed.
She took him all, and as he felt her encompassing warmth, he felt a sudden gratefulness that the Mother had led him to her, that he had found this woman. He had almost forgotten how perfectly they fit together. He revelled in her as he plunged in again, and then again. She gave herself up to him, rejoiced in the sensations he made her feel. Suddenly, almost too soon, they felt the Pleasure mounting. It surged up, until with volcanic release, it engulfed them. They held it then let go.
Lee Child, The Affair:
We were both thirty-six years old. All grown up. Not teenagers. We didn't rush. We didn't fumble. We took our time, and what a time it was. Maybe the best ever.
We kissed as soon as my door was closed. Her lips were cool and wet. Her teeth were small. Her tongue was agile. It was a great kiss. I had one hand in her hair, and one on the small of her back. She was jammed hard against me, and moving. Her eyes were open. So were mine. We kept that first kiss going for whole minutes. Five of them, or maybe ten. We were patient. We took it slow. We were very good at it. I think we both understood that the first time happens only once. We both wanted to savour it.
Eventually we came up for air....
She smiled and said, 'That's your thing? You like undressing women?'
'More than anything in the world,' I said. 'And I've been staring at that particular button since a quarter past nine.'
'Since ten past nine,' she said. 'I paid attention to the time line. I'm a cop.' ...
We stood up again and kissed again. By that point in my life I had kissed hundreds of girls, but I was ready to admit Deveraux was the finest of them all. She was spectacular. She moved and quivered and trembled. She was strong, but gentle. Passionate, but not aggressive. Hungry, but not demanding. The clock in my head took a break. We had all the time in the world, and we were going to use every last minute of it....
We came up for air and she turned me around and sat me down again....
We spent twenty minutes learning every contour above our necks....
Then it was time. We started tenderly. Long and slow, long and slow. Deep and easy. She flushed and gasped. So did I. Long and slow.
Then faster and harder.
Then we were panting.
Faster, harder, faster, harder.
'Wait,' she said.
'Wait, wait,' she said. 'Not now. Not yet. Slow down.'
Long and slow, long and slow.
'OK,' she said, 'OK. Now. Now. Now!'
Faster and harder.
Faster, harder, faster, harder.
The room began to shake.
Just faintly at first, like a mild constant tremor, like the edge of a far distant earthquake. The French door trembled in its frame. A glass rattled on the bathroom shelf. The floor quivered. The hall door creaked and shuttered. My shoes hopped and moved. The bedhead hammered against the wall. The floor shook hard. The walls boomed. Coins in my abandoned pocket tinkled. The bed shook and bounced and walked tiny fractions across the moving floor.
Then the midnight train was gone, and so were we.
Christos Tsiolkas, Dead Europe:
I sensed her embarrassment, but even more I sensed the sweet, rich blood that was flowing out of her. It's okay, I whispered ... I was immersed in the slush of her moist meat ... Her body stiffened but I forced her legs apart and pushed my face into her groin. The smell was overpowering. It was as if her cunt was a cellar filled with a heady store of wines and spirits, all emitting wafts of gaseous bouquets that recalled all the possible eruptions of the body. She smelt of farting and diarrhoea, shitting and pissing, burping, bile and vomit. I forced my tongue into this churning compost. Her blood was calling me. My tongue furiously worked the craters of her cunt and I felt the blood, coarse and thick, trickle onto my lips and into my mouth and onto my tongue and down my gut and I forced my lips over her clit and sucked on it till I felt I was drawing her into my very body and the blood kept flowing onto my lips and into my mouth and my guts and I rubbed my face across the hair and skin and meat of her and as I licked at her cunt and arse I opened my mouth wide and bit into her thigh and I did not hear her squeal for all I was aware of was the clean neat puncture and the blood that began to flow from it which fell onto my tongue and into my mouth and my gut, and her blood pumped through me and calmed the agonies in my belly and head and I knew I was alive; and laughing, drawing away from her I was aware that above me a body was heaving and I pushed my face back into her, all my fingers, my tongue, my chin, inside her: a bitter cool spray washed across my face. Her body convulsed, shuddered, trembled once more, and then fell to stillness. She had come.
Dori Ostermiller, Outside the Ordinary World
Then he's unraveling me in the silence, with hands and eyes and tongue, his face strange in the firelight, primitive almost, without the glasses. I'm entering some bright, burning country– leafless, wild. Tracking my fingertips over his olive skin, I'm struck by the potency and fragility of blood and breath and bone– these intricate, insubstantial casings that separate us, keep us alive.
For a moment, two moments, three, we're part of the same organism: some outrageous sea creature washed up and tangled on the shore, terrifying beautiful, beyond hope.
The tears come later, my back pressed to his unfamiliar chest, his heart beating my spine. Outside, leaf shadows twist and fall like embers. He's whispering something into my hair and I'm listening but not, noting instead the inner geography– landmasses have altered. The planets have come unmoored, just like in the Last Days. They will surely fall.
Or maybe nothing has changed.
Simon Van Booy, Everything Beautiful Began After
She let her dress drop and then stood out of it. Henry reached up her thighs with both arms as though quietly imploring. She squeezed his hands and guided them purposefully to the places on her body she wanted to feel him the most, any hesitation having been long dissolved by wine.
She opened her eyes when she felt the weight of his body shift. He was hard and very heavy. The feeling that began in the market that afternoon had grown in power. And from far away, something was dragging her to a place where she would momentarily lose herself. She dug her nails fiercely into his shoulders and bit him hard. He didn't flinch but slowed, suspending himself above her, strands of muscle in his shoulders like strings. She swirled in the currents below her life, where her sense of self was revealed as arbitrary, extraneous – so easily washed away by the force of a singular intent.
She was breathless but attached to life. She grabbed on to his black hair, exhaling savagely.
'Not inside,' she whispered.
Afterward, they lay on their backs, holding hands. Two people divided by the illusion of experience. All was silent.
Like a single drop, she hung upon the edge of sleep.
He reached for her hand in the darkened and together they fell from this world and into another.
Chris Adrian, The Great Night
Now they fucked in earnest, which seemed like the right thing to do...
'No more tears, love,' she said as he blubbered on her, but he couldn't stop, not even at the thought of mistakenly impregnating her with his sadness, and not even the thought of what fruit such a union might bear. A child constitutionally incapable of being happy, he thought, and part of him watched it, as he sniffed and licked and thrust, as his cock darted and bucked, as he rolled himself on her and off her and poked her now from the front and now from the back and now from the side....
'No more words, my love,' his lady said, so Huff didn't speak to it anymore but tried to show by gestures what he meant, and it felt like he was discovering what he meant by and through this marvelous fucking, like he had never, in all his days of being wise, sometimes pretending and sometimes not, actually understood anything about suffering or joy until this very moment, which encapsulated and recapitulated the named and nameless struggles of his whole life, the outcome of which he was both breathlessly creating and breathlessly waiting for, not actually knowing if it would be triumph or defeat until he came, standing, with both hands thrown high up over his head and his lady lifted to the stars on his impossibly stiff, impossibly eloquent cock. He came and came and came and fell backward, as if through a mile of air or a lifetime, to land on the soft grass with a noise like his name, feeling like he was saying his name properly for the first time because for the first time he knew who he was and what he was all about and what he really wanted, which was precisely this....
'Bravo!' he called out, the words muffled by his lady's breast. 'Bravo, everybody. Well done!'