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Aussie on Bad Sex shortlist

Nick Cave’s novel The Death of Bunny Munro has been named as a finalist in this year’s Bad Sex in Fiction Award. Now, as the Scottish wife of an Australian husband, I find it hard to imagine an Aussie male being bad at sex! (Note the British are over-represented – and people ask me why I emigrated!) However, that cover surely should win a bad taste award of some description?

The Literary Review’s Bad Sex in Fiction Award, fiction’s most notorious honour, was created by Auberon Waugh “with the aim of gently dissuading authors and publishers from including unconvincing, perfunctory, embarrassing, or redundant passages of a sexual nature in otherwise sound literary novels.” After 17 years I think it’s maybe been too gentle and the goal has not been realised. And perhaps that’s a good thing? The full shortlist of nominated works is as follows:

  • A Dead Hand by Paul Theroux ~ USA
  • The Death of Bunny Munro by Nick Cave ~ Australia :
  • He slips his hands under her cotton vest and her body spasms and slackens and he cups her small, cold breasts in his hands and feels the hard pearls of her nipples, like tiny secrets, against the barked palms of his hands. He feels the gradual winding down of her dying heart and can see a bluish tinge blossoming on the skin of her skull through her thin, ironed hair. “‘Oh, my dear Avril,’ he says. “He puts his hands under her knees and manoeuvres her carefully so that her bottom rests on the edge of the settee. He slips his fingers underneath the worn elastic of her panties that are strung across the points of her hips, slips them to her ankles and softly draws apart her knees and feels again a watery ardour in his eyes as he negotiates a button and a zipper. It is exactly as he imagined it – the hair, the lips, the hole – and he slips his hands under her wasted buttocks and enters her like a fucking pile driver.”

  • The Humbling by Philip Roth ~ USA (On order)
  • The Kindly Ones by Jonathan Littell ~ USA
  • Rhyming Life and Death by Amos Oz ~ Israel
  • The Infinities by John Banville ~ Ireland
  • The Rescue Man by Anthony Quinn ~ GB
  • Love Begins in Winter by Simon Van Booy ~ GB (On order)
  • The Naked Name of Love by Sanjida O’Connell ~ GB
  • Ten Storey Love Song by Richard Milward ~ GB

You can read all the extracts in this Guardian article, The Bad Sex Factor.

The winner of the Literary Review’s Bad Sex in Fiction Award will be announced in London on 30 November.


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