Man Booker prize-winner Ben Okri has another gong to add to his collection: the Bad Sex in Fiction award.
The Nigerian novelist's for The Age of Magic beat other illustrious names, including this year’s Booker winner Richard Flanagan and Haruki Murakami, to take the literary world’s least coveted prize.
“A writer writes what they write and that’s all there is to it,” said Ben Okri, who was unable to attend tonight’s award ceremony at the In & Out (Naval & Military) Club in St James’s Square, in a statement.
A shortlist of 10 books for the competition, which aims to draw attention to "poorly written, perfunctory or redundant passages of sexual description in modern fiction, and to discourage them", is chosen annually by the Literary Review.
Bad Sex In Fiction Awards 2014 shortlist
Bad Sex In Fiction Awards 2014 shortlist
1/10 Saskia Goldschmidt
The Hormone Factory has been nominated for a Bad Sex in Fiction award 'I kept myself quiet for a moment, kissed her and said, ‘I’ll be very gentle, all right?’ Running her tongue over her lips she nodded; she was as hot as boiling water in a distillation flask, and it wasn’t long before I was able to really get going. We both came at the same time. I stayed inside her for a few seconds, gazed at her, and smiled.'
2/10 Haruki Murakami
Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki And His Years of Pilgrimage has been nominated for a Bad Sex in Fiction award 'The girls entwined themselves lithely around Tsukuru. Kuro’s breasts were full and soft. Shiro’s were small, but her nipples were as hard as tiny round pebbles. Their pubic hair was as wet as a rain forest. Their breath mingled with his, becoming one, like currents from far away, secretly overlapping at the dark bottom of the sea.'
3/10 Amy Grace Loyd
The Affairs Of Others has been nominated for a Bad Sex in Fiction award 'I arranged myself like a vise around her, to remind her what it was to be contained – her upset, her desire, her choices, the bad ones too. Her salt in my mouth, I started to tell her about the Maine sea roses, rugosa, and how they grew like weeds, despite the elements, despite adversity; but she could not hear me over her complaints, the regular pleas and now the struggling, the struggling against me, to get away from me, to the phone. But I was a tourniquet, however poor, against the woundedness dissolving her into a liquid that kept flowing into me. '
4/10 Wilbur Smith
Desert God has been nominated for a Bad Sex in Fiction award 'Her hair was piled high, but when she shook her head it came cascading down in a glowing wave over her shoulders, and fell as far as her knees. This rippling curtain did not cover her breasts which thrust their way through it like living creatures. They were perfect rounds, white as mare’s milk and tipped with ruby nipples that puckered as my gaze passed over them. '
5/10 Richard Flanagan
The Booker Prize-winning The Narrow Road to the Deep North has been nominated for a Bad Sex in Fiction award 'If the earth spun it faltered, if the wind blew it waited. Hands found flesh; flesh, flesh. 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. As they lost themselves in the circumnavigation of each other, there came from nearby shrill shrieks that ended in a deeper howl.' 'Dorrigo looked up. A large dog stood at the top of the dune. Above blood-jagged drool, its slobbery mouth clutched a twitching fairy penguin.''
6/10 Ben Okri
The Age Of Magic has been nominated for a Bad Sex in Fiction award 'She became aware of places in her that could only have been concealed there by a god with a sense of humour. Adrift on warm currents, no longer of this world, she became aware of him gliding into her. He loved her with gentleness and strength, stroking her neck, praising her face with his hands, till she was broken up and began a low rhythmic wail. She was a little overwhelmed with being the adored focus of such power, as he rose and fell. She felt certain now that there was a heaven and that it was here, in her body. The universe was in her and with each movement it unfolded to her. Somewhere in the night a stray rocket went off. She must have been shouting, for his hand was cupping her mouth. Lost to all reason, she wanted to encompass him with beautiful obscenities.'
7/10 Michael Cunningham
The Snow Queen has been nominated for a Bad Sex in Fiction award ''With Tyler’s touch, her nipple (biggish for her tiny breasts, raspberry-colored) stiffens. She makes a sound that’s more sigh than moan. She buries her hands in his hair. Tyler gets up onto his knees, pulls his jean and boxers down. His hard-on pops. Liz kicks off her boots, pulls her own jeans and thong off, shimmies them down to her ankles and thrashes them away, spreads her legs around Tyler’s hips. Tyler gets only the briefest look at her crotch – the trimmed line of her dark pubic hair, the robust pink of her labia – before pushing back down onto her.'
8/10 Helen Walsh
The Lemon Grove has been nominated for a Bad Sex in Fiction award ''We can’t,’ she begins. His mouth is on hers; his tongue is jabbing around her gums, the wrinkled roof of her mouth. He pulls away a second time. ‘Look at me,’ he says. She looks him in the eye. She reaches out and cups his balls and squeezes gently. Nathan closes his eyes, bites his lip. Then he steps into her, furious. And when it hits her, it slams her hard and fast, as life once had.'
9/10 Kirsty Wark
The Legacy Of Elizabeth Pringle has been nominated for a Bad Sex in Fiction award 'I arched my body against him and taking his hand I guided it down over my navel and placed it between my legs, my hand on top of his, holding it there, gasping as his fingers circled me softly. He said my name over and over as he lifted me up, my legs curled around him, and laid me down beneath him on the high bed. I had never imagined that I was capable of wanton behaviour, but it was as if a dam within me had burst and we made love that day and night like two people starved, slowly suffused with more and more pleasure, exploring and devouring every inch of each other, so as not to miss one single possibility of passion. It was as if I were drinking in life itself.'
10/10 May-Lan Tan
Things To Make And Break has been nominated for a Bad Sex in Fiction award 'She wriggles down under the blankets and pulls off my jeans and skivvies. I lie back and her hair tickles my stomach, her mouth wrapping over me. I’d forgotten this about her: she has the smallest, hottest mouth, as if she’s storing lava in her cheeks. I shut my eyes, holding her hair by the roots. My bones start to liquefy. When I’m about to come, I flip her onto her back and take off her underwear'
Last year’s winner was Manil Suri for The City of Devi.
Okri’s editor, Maggie McKernan, said: “Winning the award is fun but a bit undignified, just like sex, assuming you do it properly”.’
The Age of Magic follows a team of filmmakers shooting a documentary about the idea of Arcadia, who wind up in a hotel by a lake in the shadow of a looming mountain. There, they find themselves troubled by an ominous figure called Malasso.
The judges were swayed by an ecstatic scene involving Lao, the documentary’s presenter, and his luminescent girlfriend, Mistletoe:
When his hand brushed her nipple it tripped a switch and she came alight. He touched her belly and his hand seemed to burn through her. He lavished on her body indirect touches and bitter-sweet sensations flooded her brain.
She became aware of places in her that could only have been concealed there by a god with a sense of humour. Adrift on warm currents, no longer of this world, she became aware of him gliding into her. He loved her with gentleness and strength, stroking her neck, praising her face with his hands, till she was broken up and began a low rhythmic wail. She was a little overwhelmed with being the adored focus of such power, as he rose and fell. She felt certain now that there was a heaven and that it was here, in her body. The universe was in her and with each movement it unfolded to her.
Somewhere in the night a stray rocket went off.
Laura Palmer, editorial director of Head of Zeus, accepted the award on his behalf. She said: “This completes every start-up publisher's dream hat-trick: Head of Zeus have now won a Political Book Award, the Metadata Gold Standard Award, and the Literary Review Bad Sex in Fiction Award all in a single year.”
The prize was presented by the Reverend Richard Coles, former member of chart-topping band The Communards, presenter of Saturday Live and latterly a Church of England priest who served as the inspiration for TV’s Rev.
The rest of this year's shortlist also included 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 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, and The Legacy of Elizabeth Pringle by Kirsty Wark.
The award is in its 22nd year.