It's that time of year again: The Bad Sex in Fiction shortlist has been announced.
The full shortlist is: The Yips by Nicola Barker, The Adventuress by Nicholas Coleridge, Infrared by Nancy Huston, Rare Earth by Paul Mason, Noughties by Ben Masters, The Quiddity of Will Self by Sam Mills, The Divine Comedy by Craig Raine and Back to Blood by Tom Wolfe.
Bonfire of the Vanities author Wolfe won the prize in 2004 for I Am Charlotte Simmons.
An excerpt from Wolfe's nominated Back to Blood reads: "Magdalena woke up in a hypnopompic state. Something was stroking her. It caused no alarm, however, just a semiconscious bewilderment amidst her struggle to turn her lights on."
Barker's Man Booker-longlisted novel The Yips contains the passage: "She smells of almonds, like a plump Bakewell pudding; and he is the spoon, the whipped cream, the helpless dollop of warm custard.
"She steams. He applauds, his tongue hanging out (like a bloodhound espying a raw chop in a cartoon)."
I pointed this out last year, but I'm not a huge fan of the Bad Sex in Fiction award. I've spoken to big-name writers who fear writing sex scenes because they don't want to win this award. Compared to novels of the 70's, modern literary fiction is a relatively sexless affair, and I think that's a shame. I'd much prefer it if the Literary Review ran a prize for best sex scene concurrently with the Bad Sex award. The award as it is now just amounts to a kid tittering in the back of sex ed class, whereas a Good Sex award could encourage writers to be bold and experimental in their sex scenes.