It’s probably safe to say Nancy Huston's bodice was not rippling with ecstasy when the internationally acclaimed author found out she won this year’s Bad Sex in Fiction Award.
The Literary Review magazine in London has bestowed the tongue-in-cheek honor each year since 1993. Its aim is to discourage the “crude, tasteless and often perfunctory passages of sexual description in modern novels.”
Huston, 59, won for her 14th novel, “Infrared,’’ which is about a woman who enjoys photographing her lover during sex. Passages that put her over the top for the award included one describing “flesh, that archaic kingdom that brings forth tears and terrors, nightmares, babies and bedazzlements,” and another that talks about “my sex swimming in joy like a fish in water.’’
Huston, who was born in Canada and lives in Paris, did not attend the formal ceremony on Monday announcing the award before 400 guests at London’s Naval & Military Club. Her award was accepted on her behalf by Atlantic Books associate publisher Karen Duffy, and Huston was a good sport about it. Huston released a statement through her publisher saying, “I hope this prize will incite thousands of British women to take close-up photos of their lovers’ bodies in all states of array and disarray.’’
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Huston joins literary luminaries like Normal Mailer, Tom Wolfe and 2008 lifetime achievement award winner John Updike as recipients of the Bad Sex Award. In this year’s field, she faced stiff competition from Wolfe’s book, “Back to Blood,’’ and the novel “The Yips” by Nicola Barker. Intentionally X-rated novels, like E.L. James’ blockbuster “Fifty Shades of Grey,’’ are not eligible for the award. Last year’s recipient was American author David Guterson for his book “Ed King,’’ which offered a modern take on the Oedipus myth.Story: Oedipal love scene wins author Bad Sex writing award
The “semi-abstract trophy representing sex in the 1950s” will have to compete for space on Huston’s mantel, as she has won the Prix Goncourt, France’s top literary prize, and was a finalist for the Britain’s Orange Prize for fiction by women in 2010 for “Fault Lines.’’ The Bad Sex Awards have been primarily a male domain; Huston is only the third female author to receive the dubious honor since their inception.
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