Bad Sex Awards: the most cringeworthy extracts ever nominated

From Tony Blair to Morrissey, some of the worst sex passages ever written

November 18, 2015
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Every year since 1993 the magazine Literary Review has held its "Bad Sex in Fiction Awards." The award is bestowed upon an author who, despite writing an otherwise good book, has produced a particularly dreadful sexual description. With this year's nominees now announced, we run through some of the worst ever offenders.

By Design, Richard E Grant, 1998

“I really have little choice other than to succumb completely, vaguely conscious that should she guide my now throbbing Titanic into her icebergs, I would definitely be sunk...” “Kyla's personalized tour around my nether world in eighty glorious ways is not quite the agenda I had in mind for today. Not that I'm complaining. Kyla's furious up-down dedication is fast approaching meltdown, and a synaptic leap synchs two thoughts: 1) why? and 2) why not let's get truly biblical and share and share alike?”

Middlesex, Jeffrey Eugenides, 2002

“I turned the light off. I pressed against the Object. I took the backs of her thighs in my hands, adjusting her legs around my waist. I reached under her. I brought her up to me. And then my body, like a cathedral, broke out into ringing. The hunchback in the belfry had jumped and was swinging madly on the rope.”

The Religion, Tim Willocks, 2006

“She kissed him and he surrendered his virtue without further ado. He discovered afresh her nimble, flickering tongue. Her black hair had grown longer and fell about her neck in uncultivated curls. He slid a hand beneath her arse and guided the tip of his organ between the folds of her matrix.”

A Journey, Tony Blair, 2010

“That night she cradled me in her arms and soothed me; told me what I needed to be told; strengthened me”. “On that night of 12 May 1994, I needed that love Cherie gave me, selfishly. I devoured it to give me strength. I was an animal following my instinct".

Infrared, Nancy Huston, 2012 (Winner):

“He runs his tongue and lips over my breasts, the back of my neck, my toes, my stomach, the countless treasures between my legs, oh the sheer ecstasy of lips and tongues on genitals, either simultaneously or in alternation, never will I tire of that silvery fluidity, my sex swimming in joy like a fish in water, my self freed of both self and other, the quivering sensation, the carnal pink palpitation that detaches you from all colour and all flesh, making you see only stars, constellations, milky ways, propelling you bodiless and soulless into undulating space where the undulating skies make your non-body undulate…”.

The City of Devi, Manil Suri, 2013

“Surely supernovas explode that instant, somewhere, in some galaxy. The hut vanishes, and with it the sea and the sands – only Karun's body, locked with mine, remains. We streak like superheroes past suns and solar systems, we dive through shoals of quarks and atomic nuclei. In celebration of our breakthrough fourth star, statisticians the world over rejoice.”

Secrecy, Rupert Thomson, 2013

“I closed my eyes as well and moved inside her, imagining the ribbed flesh, the supple rings of muscle. Mauve and yellow flowers filled the blank screen of my eyelids, the petals loosening and drifting downwards on to smooth grey stone. I kissed the soft bristles in the hollow of her armpit, then I kissed the smaller hollow of her clavicle. I moved up to her mouth, which smelled of ripe melon. Not the wound-red Tuscan watermelon, but the pale-green variety I had bought in Naples once, and which had grown, so I was told, on the wild coast of Barbaria.”

List of the Lost, Morrissey, 2015

“At this, Eliza and Ezra rolled together into the one giggling snowball of full-figured copulation, screaming and shouting as they playfully bit and pulled at each other in a dangerous and clamorous rollercoaster coil of sexually violent rotation with Eliza’s breasts barrel-rolled across Ezra’s howling mouth and the pained frenzy of his bulbous salutation extenuating his excitement as it whacked and smacked its way into every muscle of Eliza’s body except for the otherwise central zone.”