Alastair Campbell's depiction of a gauche sexual encounter in his debut novel All in the Mind has won him a place on the shortlist for the literary world's most dreaded honour: the Literary Review Bad Sex in Fiction award. Run by the Literary Review, the bad sex awards were set up by Auberon Waugh "with the aim of gently dissuading authors and publishers from including unconvincing, perfunctory, embarrassing or redundant passages of a sexual nature in otherwise sound literary novels". The former spin doctor may take heart from the implication that his debut is an "otherwise sound literary novel". Campbell of course has some earlier practice in depicting sex, having written pornography for Forum magazine under the pseudonym the Riviera Gigolo early in his career, but a passage set on a bench has catapulted Campbell onto the list: "He wasn't sure where his penis was in relation to where he wanted it to be, but when her hand curled around it once more, and she pulled him towards her, it felt right," Campbell writes. But Campbell's prose is considerably less purple than some of the other contenders for this year's prize, including new age novelist Paulo Coelho for his novel Brida, in which the act of sex — on a public footpath — is described as "the moment when Eve was reabsorbed into Adam's body and the two halves became Creation".
Fast forward 34 years, when Updike — no stranger to erotic writing — won a Lifetime Achievement Award for bad sex in fiction. The Literary Review, which bestows the dubious distinction, said in that Updike had received four consecutive nominations for passages from The Witches of Eastwick. For the full passage, click here. Few would say that Updike, who won the Pulitzer for Fiction twice, is a lousy writer. And yet, in at least this instance, he failed when writing about sex.
Since , the British publication has been bestowing the title "to draw attention to the crude, badly written, often perfunctory use of redundant passages of sexual descriptions in the modern novel, and to discourage it. In addition to the nominees mentioned above, other illustrious authors on the shortlist for the Bad Sex Award include former Prime Minister Tony Blair, who revealed a little too much in his memoir A Journey about how his wife, Cherie, comforted him the night of Labour leader John Smith's death:. That night she cradled me in her arms and soothed me; told me what I needed to be told; strengthened me.
Wednesday 14 August UK News feed. Johnson was crowned overall winner in the competition, which celebrates crude, tasteless or ridiculous sexual passages in modern literature, for an excerpt from her satirical novel Shire Hell. Pulitzer Prize-winning author John Updike was also honoured with a lifetime achievement award at last night's ceremony, laid on by Literary Review Magazine. Columnist and author Johnson accepted her prize with good humour, saying it was an "absolute honour" to win, taking her place alongside former winners including Norman Mailer, Sebastian Faulks and Tom Wolfe.