August 09, 2020
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Bad Sex Prize 1993-1997

It was established "to draw attention to the crude, tasteless, often perfunctory use of redundant passages of sexual description in the modern novel, and to discourage it." But the award seems to be encouraging it.

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Bad Sex Prize 1993-1997
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-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53

The Literary Review Bad Sex in Fiction Award was instituted by Rhoda Koenig, a literary critic, and Auberon Waugh, then editor of the London-based  Literary Review in 1993 for the most laughable descriptions of sex in a contemporary novel with the intention "to draw attention to the crude, tasteless, often perfunctory use of redundant passages of sexual description in the modern novel, and to discourage it."

When choosing their first winner, Auberon Waugh, editor of the Literary Review had claimed that he had to threaten Bragg with 'a hate Melvyn rally' before he would agree to appear in person at an Academy Club dinner to receive the award - a revolting statuette symbolising bad sex.

As Waugh put it, 'Melvyn accepted the award with the statutory modest remarks about how the prize had gone to the wrong chap and there were much more deserving recipients.'

But as Waugh confessed, "The real reason we picked on him was that he was the most famous (literary) man we could think of, so it was good publicity to go for him." 

A list of winners and excerpts from the winning passages:

1993: Melvin Bragg, A Time to Dance, which described various body parts as 

"a relief map of mysteries"

1994: Philip Hook, The Stonebreakers

"Their jaws ground in feverish mutual mastication. Saliva and sweat. Sweat and saliva. There was a purposeful shedding of clothing. They became some mad mobile sculpture"

1995: Philip Kerr, Gridiron

"Detaching mind from over-eager gnomon and its exquisitely appointed, shadowy task, he began to make love to her."

1996: David Huggins, The Big Kiss

"Liz squeaked like wet rubber"

1997: Nicholas Royle, The Matter of the Heart

"She made a noise somewhere between a beached seal and a police siren"

We welcome mail from readers providing us with fuller passages from the above winning or the nominated and shortlisted passages

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