Entertainment & Arts

Man Booker winner on Bad Sex in Fiction shortlist

Australian novelist Richard Flanagan holds a copy of his book The Narrow Road to the Deep North Image copyright EPA
Image caption Australian novelist Richard Flanagan won the Man Booker Prize in October

Richard Flanagan's Man Booker Prize-winning novel is among 10 works nominated for the Literary Review's annual Bad Sex in Fiction Award.

The Narrow Road to the Deep North includes the line: "He kissed the slight, rose-coloured trench that remained from her knicker elastic, running around her belly like the equator line circling the world."

The award, in its 22nd year, highlights "crude, badly written or perfunctory use of sexual description" in modern novels.

The winner will be announced at a ceremony in London on 3 December.

BBC journalist and presenter Kirsty Wark's The Legacy of Elizabeth Pringle made the list, but not broadcaster Andrew Marr's Head of State, which - the judges said - started arrestingly ("they bucked like deer and squirmed like eels. And after that, vice-versa") but failed to sustain its early promise.

The 2014 shortlist, which is still open to new entries, includes:

  • The Snow Queen by Michael Cunningham
  • The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan
  • The Hormone Factory by Saskia Goldschmidt
  • Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami
  • The Age of Magic by Ben Okri
  • The Affairs of Others by Amy Grace Loyd
  • Desert God by Wilbur Smith
  • Things to Make and Break by May-Lan Tan
  • The Lemon Grove by Helen Walsh
  • The Legacy of Elizabeth Pringle by Kirsty Wark

Previous winners of prize, established by The Literary Review in 1993, include Melvyn Bragg, Norman Mailer and AA Gill.

Last year the prize was won by Manil Suri for The City of Devi.


Selected excerpts

The Legacy of Elizabeth Pringle by Kirsty Wark

He said my name over and over as he lifted me up, my legs curled around him, and laid me down beneath him on the high bed. I had never imagined that I was capable of wanton behaviour, but it was as if a dam within me had burst and we made love that day and night like two people starved, slowly suffused with more and more pleasure, exploring and devouring every inch of each other, so as not to miss one single possibility of passion. It was as if I were drinking in life itself.

Desert God by Wilbur Smith

Her hair was piled high, but when she shook her head it came cascading down in a glowing wave over her shoulders, and fell as far as her knees. This rippling curtain did not cover her breasts which thrust their way through it like living creatures.

The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan

Whatever had held them apart, whatever had restrained their bodies before, was now gone. If the earth spun it faltered, if the wind blew it waited. Hands found flesh; flesh, flesh. He felt the improbable weight of her eyelash with his own; he kissed the slight, rose-coloured trench that remained from her knicker elastic, running around her belly like the equator line circling the world. As they lost themselves in the circumnavigation of each other, there came from nearby shrill shrieks that ended in a deeper howl.

From DD-MM-YY in Things to Make or Break by May-Lan Tan

I'd forgotten this about her: she has the smallest, hottest mouth, as if she's storing lava in her cheeks. I shut my eyes, holding her hair by the roots. My bones start to liquefy.

The Hormone Factory by Saskia Goldshmidt

Running her tongue over her lips she nodded; she was as hot as boiling water in a distillation flask, and it wasn't long before I was able to really get going.

The Age of Magic by Ben Okri

Somewhere in the night a stray rocket went off. She must have been shouting, for his hand was cupping her mouth. Lost to all reason, she wanted to encompass him with beautiful obscenities.

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