US author Christopher Bollen has been named the winner of the 2017 Bad Sex in Fiction Award for his novel The Destroyers.
The judges voted him the winner after reading a scene depicting the book’s protagonist, Ian, with his ex-girlfriend on the island of Patmos. The following extract drew particular focus from this year’s judges:
“Do me a favor,” she says as she turns. She covers her breasts with her swimsuit. The rest of her remains so delectably exposed. The skin along her arms and shoulders are different shades of tan like water stains in a bathtub. Her face and vagina are competing for my attention, so I glance down at the billiard rack of my penis and testicles. “Let’s not tell Charlie and Sonny about us. Let’s leave them out of it. You know how this kind of thing can become a telenovela for everyone else.”
Bollen – editor-at-large of Interview magazine – did not attend the ceremony; not an uncommon move by winners of the award, with some previous winners describing receiving the dubious honour as “a repulsive horror”.
The Destroyers is his third novel and the judges said he “prevailed against strong competition” – with extracts from the books of those shortlisted available to read here.
The award, organised by the Literary Review, was presented by Carry On star Fenella Fielding at London’s Naval and Military Club – also known as the In & Out.
It was established in 1993 by journalist and writer Auberon Waugh.
Organisers say the purpose of the prize is “to draw attention to poorly written, perfunctory or redundant passages of sexual description in modern fiction”.
It does not cover pornographic or expressly erotic literature.
Some notable lines from other nominees for this year’s award include those from Wilbur Smith’s War Cry, in which a male character says he would like to explore his lover “like Dr Livingstone and Mr Stanley exploring Africa”.
Another shortlisted work – The Future Won’t Be Long by Turkish-American author Jarett Kobek – likens sexual intercourse to a “pulsing wave”, a “holy burst” and a “congress of wonder”.
Another nominee – The Seventh Function of Language by France’s Laurent Binet – features a woman telling her lover to: “Fuck me like a machine.”
In her shortlisted debut novel Mother of Darkness, Venetia Welby wrote about a character called Tera who “moans in colours” as her lover approaches.
Recent winners include Morrissey’s debut novel List of the Lost, which has become infamous for its use of the phrase “bulbous salutation”. Last year the award went to Italian author Erri De Luca.