The Snow Queen

It’s one thing to watch bad sex on screen, but to read it? Now that comes with its own much-dreaded award.

The Literary Review announced the shortlist for its 22nd annual Bad Sex in Fiction Award for what they describe as “the most egregious passage of sexual description in a work of fiction.” Previous winners have included Norman Mailer for The Castle in the Forest, Tom Wolfe for I Am Charlotte Simmons, and John Updike for an overall Lifetime Achievement Award for his four consecutive “Bad Sex” nominations. This year’s nominees are a rather distinguished bunch, counting Haruki Murakami, this year’s Man Booker prize winner Richard Flanagan, and Pulitzer Prize winner Michael Cunningham as culprits of bad sex writing.

Some choice lines gleaned from Flanagan’s nominated work, The Narrow Road to the Deep North, include the following hyperbolic depiction of passion: “He felt the improbable weight of her eyelash with his own; he kissed the slight, rose-coloured trench that remained from her knicker elastic, running around her belly like the equator line circling the world.”

Here is the full list of nominees:

  • The Snow Queen by Michael Cunningham
  • The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan
  • The Hormone Factory by Saskia Goldschmidt
  • Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami
  • The Age of Magic by Ben Okri
  • The Affairs of Others by Amy Grace Loyd
  • Desert God by Wilbur Smith
  • Things to Make and Break by May-Lan Tan
  • The Lemon Grove by Helen Walsh
  • The Legacy of Elizabeth Pringle by Kirsty Wark

Read the entire “bad sex” passages at the Guardian, who have done the helpful task of transcribing each nominee’s works.