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2010 Bad Sex in Fiction Award

Rowan Somerville is the latest author to join the ranks of Norman Mailer, Tom Wolfe and Sebastian Faulks in this year’s Bad Sex in Fiction Award, the annual prize from British magazine Literary Review. In Somerville’s novel, The Shape of Her, he describes sex as something akin to “a lepidopterist mounting a tough-skinned insect with a too blunt pin he screwed himself into her.” Yowza. To be fair, Somerville’s first novel, The End of Sleep, was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writer’s Prize, and he accepted the Literary Review’s distinction gracefully. “There is nothing more English than bad sex,” he said, “so on behalf of the entire nation I would like to thank you.”

Other nominees this year included Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom. Maya, written by Tony Blair’s former communications director Alistair Campbell was a nominee at one point, but he was ultimately disqualified for “pursuing the prize too enthusiastically.” The judges also considered Blair’s memoir A Journey: My Political Life, but decided the line “I was an animal following my instinct” was too short. I hope Somerville shares the award with his editor and anyone else who read his manuscript without liberal application of a red pen.