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Literary Review unveils shortlist for 2013 Bad Sex Awards

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Woodie Guthrie
Eric Schaal/Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images

Eat your heart out, Fifty Shades of Grey.

Literary Review revealed its shortlist for this year’s Bad Sex in Fiction Awards — a prize that, as the name suggests, goes to the worst, most embarrassing literary passage about sex. Founded in 1993, the award is used “to draw attention to the crude, badly written, often perfunctory use of redundant passages of sexual description in the modern novel, and to discourage it.”

This year’s eight candidates include authors Woodie Guthrie, Matthew Reynolds, and Susan Choi, who all included unfortunately awkward-sounding sex scenes in their writings this year. The books, though devoid of pornographic literature, had enough cringe-worthy paragraphs to merit the, er, honor of being shortlisted.

Check out the full shortlist — and some (possibly NSFW) excerpts — below:

House of Earth by Woody Guthrie

Back and forth, side to side, they moved on their bed on the hay. Back and forth, side to side, they moved their hips, their feet, their legs, their whole bodies.”

Motherland by William Nicholson

‘So are we going to do it, Lawrence?’

‘Yes,’ he whispers. ‘Yes.’

‘Doesn’t the Catholic Church say it’s wrong?’

‘Yes,’ he says.

‘F—— me is wrong.’


The City of Devi by Manil Suri

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.”

Secrecy by Rupert Thomson

‘I saw flowers. Huge mauve and yellow flowers, all massed together, and falling slowly through the air–‘

‘When you hit your head?’

I laughed again. ‘No, before. When I was inside you.’

‘Flowers?’ she said. ‘I never heard of anything like that.’

The World Was All Before Them by Matthew Reynolds

And now his tongue was sliding over that lumpy right nipple, and his teeth were nibbling at it, and the palm of his other hand was giving some attention the neglected soft other nipple, and she stirred and her breath became a moan as endorphinergic and morphinergic mechanisms spluttered into life.”

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 hour later, and gaze at each other in mute wonderment. ‘F–k,’ she said, sitting up. ‘What the f–k time is it?'”

The Last Banquet by Jonathan Grimwood

Reaching behind me, I found the Brie and broke off a fragment, sucking her nipple through it. She tasted almost as she had the day I took the drop of milk on my finger.”

The Victoria System by Eric Reinhardt

‘Look,’ she was saying, ‘look at my breasts. I want to show them to you. I hope you like them. They’re for you. I’m giving them to you.’ And her chest appeared before my eyes like a slow-motion shot of a natural phenomenon in a television documentary.”

This year’s winner will be announced Dec. 3.