James Frey cleans up at Bad Sex award

News - Prizes Wednesday, 05 December 2018

Katerina, a fictionalised account of love affair, triumphs at notorious literary prize; judges swayed by multiple references to semen


Million Little Pieces author James Frey has won the least wanted British literary prize, the Literary Review's Bad Sex award, for his recent novel Katerina (John Murray).

The book concerns a young American writer and his affair with a Norwegian model in Paris, apparently based on a real love affair the author started while on a hedonistic trip to France in the 1990s.

The judges awarded the prize on the basis of the numerous sexual encounters depicted in the novel, some involving taxis and car parks, and in particular a detailed account of a liason in a bathroom with multiple references to male emissions.

Sample quote: "Blinding breathless shaking overwhelming exploding white God I cum inside her my cock throbbing we’re both moaning eyes hearts souls bodies one. One. White. God. Cum. Cum. Cum. I close my eyes let out my breath. Cum. I lean against her both breathing hard I’m still inside her smiling. She takes my hands lifts them and places them around her body, she puts her arms around me, we stay still and breathe, hard inside her, tight and warm and wet around me, we breathe."

In their citation the judges said: "Frey prevailed against a strong all-male shortlist by virtue of the sheer number and length of dubious erotic passages in his book. The multiple scenes of sustained fantasy in Katerina could have won Frey the award many times over."

Frey said: "I am deeply honoured and humbled to receive this prestigious award. Kudos to all my distinguished fellow finalists – you have all provided me with many hours of enjoyable reading over the last year."

The award, now in its 26th year, is for 'the most egregious passage of sexual description in a work of fiction... 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.'

Last year the prize was won by Christopher Bollen for The Destroyers (Scribner), with the award presented by the late Carry On star Fenella Fielding. Previous winners of the award include Morrissey, Ben Okri, Norman Mailer, Melvyn Bragg and Sebastian Faulks.

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