Some sex scenes are so bad they’re good. Some sex scenes are so bad they’re just bad. UK’s Literary Review has declared the winner of 2013’s Bad Sex in Fiction award, Manil Suri, for his “subatomic bisexual orgy” scenes found in his novel, The City of Devi.
The novel is set in Mumbai in the eve of a nuclear war and the winning scene depicts an extended threesome between the main character, her husband and a young gay Muslim. It reads:
“Surely supernovas explode that instant, somewhere, in some galaxy. The hut vanishes, and with it the sea and the sands – only Karun’s body, locked with mine, remains. We streak like superheroes past suns and solar systems, we dive through shoals of quarks and atomic nuclei. In celebration of our breakthrough fourth star, statisticians the world over rejoice.”
Alright, then. Author Manil Suri joins other prominent Bad Sex winners including Tom Wolfe for the college hookup scenes in I Am Charlotte Simmons and John Updike for a lifetime of bad sex writing.
Literary Review editor, Jonathan Beckman, penned an editorial defending his publication’s contentious award, which takes no issue with sex in fiction but rather with bad writing in otherwise well-regarded literary works.
“Emphasis for the judges is much more on crudeness – crudeness of writing, that is, not the sex itself,” he wrote. “It is misshapen sentences that we’re after, those deformed by the dead hand of cliché or distended metaphor.”
E.L. James is lucky Bad Sex in Fiction excludes erotica.
Read more cringe-worthy sex scenes from the rest of this year’s nominees:
[pullquote align=”left”]So magnified and so keen were her feelings that her inner nerves could even feel the bumps, the ridges, the pimples, the few stray hairs along the shaft of his male rod.[/pullquote]
Motherland, by William Nicholson: “She moves her hips, pushing him deeper into her all the time, and as she does so she whispers, ‘F**k me now, Lawrence. F**k me now.’”
House of Earth by Woody Guthrie: “So magnified and so keen were her feelings that her inner nerves could even feel the bumps, the ridges, the pimples, the few stray hairs along the shaft of his male rod.”
My Education, by Susan Choi: “Weeping we knotted our bodies together, caressing and hushing each other, until we both must have slept, to awake it seemed many hours later, and gaze at each other in mute wonderment. ‘F**k,’ she said, sitting up. ‘What the f**k time is it?’”
Secrecy by Rupert Thomson: “I closed my eyes as well and moved inside her, imagining the ribbed flesh, the supple rings of muscle. Mauve and yellow flowers filled the blank screen of my eyelids, the petals loosening and drifting downwards on to smooth grey stone. I kissed the soft bristles in the hollow of her armpit, then I kissed the smaller hollow of her clavicle.”
The World Was All Before Them by Matthew Reynolds: “But phew she too seemed to be surfing the waves of neuromuscular euphoria, so that as, sweating, panting, he bowed his forehead to her chest, she gripped him tight, her sharp nails stabbing; and then they were grinning and kissing each other’s noses, cheeks; and then they lay entangled for a moment, breathing; and then they rose, one after another, went for a piss, came back and settled into bed again.”
The Last Banquet by Jonathan Grimwood: “In my mouth her nipple turned from strawberry to deep raspberry but the taste I wanted was missing. I had sweat and what had to be soap from washing her dress or herself. Reaching behind me, I found the Brie and broke off a fragment, sucking her nipple through it.”
The Victoria System by Eric Reinhardt: “Drops of sweat running down her temples shone through this incandescent lull like crystal ladybirds. I waited, tensed, tortured, for Victoria’s palms to start descending once again towards the elastic of my underwear.”