Bad Sex in Fiction: US writer Christopher Bollen wins

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US author Christopher Bollen has won the Bad Sex in Fiction Award for his novel The Destroyers.

The judges voted him the winner after reading a scene depicting the book’s protagonist, Ian, with his ex-girlfriend on the island of Patmos.

He wrote: “She covers her breasts with her swimsuit… The skin along her arms and shoulders are different shades of tan like water stains in a bathtub.”

Bollen – editor-at-large of Interview magazine – did not attend the ceremony.

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Wilbur Smith

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Wilbur Smith’s War Cry was among the nominees

The Destroyers is his third novel and the judges said he “prevailed against strong competition”.

The award, organised by the Literary Review, was presented by Carry On star Fenella Fielding at London’s Naval and Military Club – also known as the In & Out.

It was established in 1993 by journalist and writer Auberon Waugh.

Organisers say the purpose of the prize is “to draw attention to poorly written, perfunctory or redundant passages of sexual description in modern fiction”.

It does not cover pornographic or expressly erotic literature.

Other nominees included Wilbur Smith’s War Cry, which included a male character saying he wants to explore his lover “like Dr Livingstone and Mr Stanley exploring Africa”.

Another shortlisted work – The Future Won’t Be Long by Turkish-American author Jarett Kobek – likens sexual intercourse to a “pulsing wave”, a “holy burst” and a “congress of wonder”.

Another nominee – The Seventh Function of Language by France’s Laurent Binet – features a man wooing a woman with the words: “Let’s construct an assemblage.”

In her shortlisted debut novel Mother of Darkness, Venetia Welby wrote about a character called Tera who “moans in colours” as her lover approaches.

Recent winners include Morrissey’s debut novel List of the Lost and last year the award went to Italian author Erri De Luca.

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