Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Jonathan Littell Wins 2009 Bad Sex in Fiction Award

U.S. writer Jonathan Littell has now added Literary Review's Bad Sex in Fiction award to the honors bestowed upon his 900-page novel, The Kindly Ones, an international best-seller and recent winner of the Goncourt prize, France's highest honor to the author of "the best and most imaginative prose work of the year." The winner was announced last night in London.

The awards were established by the editors to “gently dissuade authors and publishers from including unconvincing, perfunctory, embarrassing or redundant passages of a sexual nature in otherwise sound literary novels.” They are annually awarded to the author who produces the worst, most laughable and/or jarring description of a sexual encounter in a modern novel.

In its review, The Nation noted that The Kindly Ones, a "fictive memoir of a Nazi SS officer, is intentionally sickening and an unquestionably brilliant success."

In Book Patrol's recent report on this year's Bad Sex in Fiction nominees, I thought sure that I'd correctly identified the offending scene. The editors at Literary Review had another in mind. So many to choose from...

The offending passage compared female genitalia to various Greek fiends, including the mythical monster Gorgon and "a motionless Cyclops whose single eye never blinks."

"Here's looking at you, kid," Bogey said to Bergman. And we'll leave it at that.

Last year, John Updike was awarded a Bad Sex in Fiction lifetime achievement award for the singular achievement of being nominated four times in the prize's 17-year history.


Of related interest: 2009 Bad Sex in Fiction Award Nominees Announced.

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