War Cry by Wilbur Smith with David Churchill (HarperCollins) has been shortlisted for the Bad Sex in Fiction Award, but Vince Cable’s novel Open Arms was dismissed despite “many” nominations.
Alongside War Cry – which was picked by the judges for a passage in which a war veteran says: “It’s bloody cold. I might get frostbite on my cock” – the seven-strong shortlist includes The Seventh Function of Language by Laurent Binet (Vintage), The Destroyers by Christopher Bollen (Harper Perennial), Mother of Darkness by Venetia Welby (Quartet), As a God Might Be by Neil Griffiths (Dodo Ink), The Future Won’t Be Long by Jarett Kobek (Serpent’s Tail), and Here Comes Trouble by Simon Wroe (W&N).
According to the prize’s organisers, the Literary Review, the purpose of the prize is to draw attention to “poorly written, perfunctory or redundant passages of sexual description in modern fiction”. The prize is not intended to cover pornographic or expressly erotic literature. Monique Roffey’s The Tryst (Dodo Ink), despite being heavily nominated, is therefore not eligible, even though it is full of the sort of lines that tend to be picked up by the judges, such as “He lightly kissed my breasts, his beard all grassy, like a great sea sponge.”
Many people also nominated Vince Cable’s novel Open Arms (Corvus) for consideration. However, the judges said the sex in his debut thriller was “very discreet”, and the book does not qualify “simply because its author is a Member of Parliament”.
The winner of this year’s award will be announced on Thursday 30th November.