Last month I reported on the announcement of the nominees for this year’s Bad Sex in Fiction Award. The award was won yesterday by Ben Okri, for his rocket-filled passage from The Age of Magic. The passage includes the following: “When his hand brushed her nipple it tripped a switch and she came alight. He touched her belly and his hand seemed to burn through her … He loved her with gentleness and strength, stroking her neck, praising her face with his hands, till she was broken up and began a low rhythmic wail … The universe was in her and with each movement it unfolded to her. Somewhere in the night a stray rocket went off.” When Okri was informed he had won the Literary Review’s Bad Sex Award, he issued a curt statement: “A writer writes what they write and that’s all there is to it.”
The Guardian reports that his publisher accepted on his behalf. “Laura Palmer, editorial director of Head of Zeus, accepting the award on his behalf was more chipper: ‘This completes every start-up publisher’s dream hat-trick: Head of Zeus have now won a Political Book award, the Metadata Gold Standard award, and the Literary Review Bad Sex in Fiction award all in a single year.’ Okri’s editor, Maggie McKernan, said: ‘Winning the award is fun but a bit undignified, just like sex, assuming you do it properly.'” While I congratulate Okri on winning, I’m also disappointed, as I’d placed a bet on the prize going to May-Lan Tan for a particularly purple piece of prose describing sex as positively solar.