Manil Suri wins Literary Review Bad Sex Award

Manil Suri wins Literary Review Bad Sex Award

Manil Suri’s The City of Devi (Bloomsbury) has won the 21st annual Literary Review Bad Sex in Fiction Prize.

The award was presented by Joan Collins at a ceremony last night (3rd December) at the Naval and Military Club in London, known as the In & Out Club, and accepted by a representative of his publisher.

The City of Devi is set in Mumbai as the city is locked-down under the threat of a nuclear bomb and follows three characters: Sarita, her physicist husband Karun, who has disappeared, and Jaz, a young gay Muslim.

The judges were won over by the climax of an extended sex scene involving all three characters, which reads: “Surely supernovas explode that instant, somewhere, in some galaxy. The hut vanishes, and with it the sea and the sands—only Karun’s 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.”

The City of Devi is Suri’s third work of fiction. The author, a professor of mathematics at the University of Maryland in America, has previously been longlisted for the Man Booker Prize and shortlisted for the Pen/Faulkner Award.

His publisher Bloomsbury said: “In accepting this award we challenge everyone to make up their own mind about Manil Suri’s The City of Devi. As Tolstoy said in Anna Karenina, ‘There are as many kinds of love as there are hearts’. Take The City of Devi home to bed with you tonight and discover sex scenes that the TLS praised as ‘unfettered, quirky, beautiful, tragic and wildly experimental,’ written by an author who, according to the Wall Street Journal, ‘captures the insecurity, the curiosity and even the comedy of those vulnerable moments’.

“As Jane Austen observed: ‘One half of the world cannot understand the pleasures of the other.’ Which half are you in?”

This year’s other shortlisted novels were My Education by Susan Choi (Short Books); The Last Banquet by Jonathan Grimwood (Canongate); House of Earth by Woody Guthrie (Fourth Estate); Motherland by William Nicholson (Quercus); The Victoria System by Eric Reinhardt (Hamish Hamilton); The World Was All Before Them by Matthew Reynolds (Bloomsbury); and Secrecy by Rupert Thomson (Granta).

The Bad Sex in Fiction award was established in 1993 by Auberon Waugh. Its purpose is to draw attention to the "crude, badly written, or perfunctory use of passages of sexual description in contemporary novels, and to discourage it".