The worst obligatory sex scene of the year

One of the banes of contemporary literature, in my opinion, is the obligatory sex scene, in which the aesthetic pleasure of fiction is interrupted with a blow-by-blow description of its characters’ sexual experience.  Setting aside the moral issues of a work aspiring to pornography, these scenes are almost always very badly written, even when attempted by an otherwise accomplished author.

So Britain’s Literary Review gives an annual “Bad Sex Award” for the worst sex scene in a novel with literary pretensions.  (Ordinary trashy novels are not considered.)  Previous winners have included John Updike, Norman Mailer, and Tom Wolfe.  The purpose of the prize is  to ”draw attention to the crude, tasteless, often perfunctory use of redundant passages of sexual description in the modern novel, and to discourage it.”

This year’s winner is so overwrought, so opaque, so non-erotic, that I don’t think it will offend anyone.  I think I can quote the passage after the jump without violating the G-rated standards of this blog.

From Manil Suri, The City of Devi:

“Surely supernovas explode that instant, somewhere, in some galaxy. The hut vanishes, and with it the sea and the sands – only [his] 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.”

via Maryland mathematician Manil Suri wins Bad Sex Award.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.


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