Bad Sex in Fiction Award: Didier Decoin and John Harvey both selected as winners

'Ultimately there was no separating the winners,' say judges

Clémence Michallon
Monday 02 December 2019 23:28 GMT
The Bad Sex in Fiction Award has gone to two authors in an unprecedented move (stock image).
The Bad Sex in Fiction Award has gone to two authors in an unprecedented move (stock image).

The Bad Sex in Fiction Award has been given to two writers for the first time.

John Harvey, a life fellow at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, and French author Didier Decoin have both been announced as winners of the Literary Review‘s tongue-in-cheek prize.

The judges were swayed by steamy passages in Decoin’s book The Office Of Gardens And Ponds, as well as some in Harvey’s book, Pax.

They said in a statement: “We tried voting, but it didn’t work. We tried again.

“Ultimately there was no separating the winners.”

The judges added: “Faced with two unpalatable contenders, we found ourselves unable to choose between them. We believe the British public will recognise our plight.”

A passage highlighted from Decoin’s book goes as follows: ”Katsuro moaned as a bulge formed beneath the material of his kimono, a bulge that Miyuki seized, kneaded, massaged, squashed and crushed. With the fondling, Katsuro’s penis and testicles became one single mound that rolled around beneath the grip of her hand. Miyuki felt as though she was manipulating a small monkey that was curling up its paws.”

As for Harvey, he was singled out for scenes such as this one: ”She was burning hot and the heat was in him. He looked down on her perfect black slenderness. Her eyes were ravenous. Like his own they were fire and desire. More than torrid, more than tropical: they too were riding the Equator. They embraced as if with violent holding they could weld the two of them one.”

Other books shortlisted included The River Capture by Mary Costello, City Of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert and Dominic Smith’s The Electric Hotel.

The result was announced at a ceremony at the In & Out (Naval & Military) Club in St James’s Square, London, where the 400 guests raised a toast to the winners.

The aim of the prize, awarded since 1993, is to draw attention to "poorly written, redundant, or downright cringeworthy passages of sexual description in modern fiction", as stated by the Literary Review.

Additional reporting by agencies

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in