Jonathan Littell Wins Bad Sex In Fiction Award

Buzz, Love

"The Kindly Ones" takes the '09 Bad Sex In Fiction award.

People, I've noticed, dislike a few things unequivocally. One of them is bad poetry. The other thing is bad sex. (I used to hold the opinion that sex, like pizza, couldn't "bad" because it's still sex or pizza; I no longer feel that way.) When you put bad sex and bad poetry together, you get such an unapologetically terrible experience that you're not sure what to do with your own eyeballs. 

But what happens when good writers produce enjoyable works of literature with comically bad sex scenes? The 17th Literary Review Bad Sex In Fiction Award is what happens. According to Reuters, this year's winner is Jonathan Littell, and he's taken home the hardware for a particularly bad passage in his 2006 book The Kindly Ones. The work won France's Prix Goncourt award for excellence in literature, but that didn't stop it from being ribbed for the following sentence: "I came suddenly, a jolt that emptied my head like a spoon scraping the inside of a soft-boiled egg." (Perhaps it loses something in translation.) With lines like that you have to wonder if the author (or narrator, to be fair) has ever had sex or soft-boiled eggs. Read: Stop Settling for So-So Sex!

Jonathan Littell finds himself in good company, as Norman Mailer and Tom Wolfe have both taken the prize. Littell, though, earns the distinction of being the only person to have a single work take both the Bad Sex In Fiction award and the Goncourt prize. Congrats. And way to make Larry Flynt look like Emily Dickinson. Read: Norman Mailer Posthumously Wins 2007 Bad Sex In Literature Prize