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Woody Guthrie up for bad sex in fiction award but Bridget Jones misses out

Story by Jack Foley

THE debut novel from folk singer Woody Guthrie has been shortlisted for 2013’s Literary Review Bad Sex in Fiction Award – but Helen Fielding’s latest Bridget Jones novel has just missed out.

Guthrie’s House of Earth has been nominated 46 years after his death and will battle novels such as Susan Choi’s My Education and Rupert Thomson’s Secrecy.

The winner will be revealed during a ceremony in London on December 3, 2013.

Other nominees are Jonathan Grimwood’s The Last Banquet, William Nicholson’s Motherland, Manil Suri’s The City of Devi, Eric Reinhardt’s The Victoria System and The World Was All Before Them by Matthew Reynolds.

Guthrie posthumously made the shortlist for phrases such as “her body melted into a single note of music to the sky”. His newly-discovered novel was only released earlier this year and was notable for featuring an introduction from Johnny Depp.

Another passage to be highlighted by the judges came in Rupert Thompson’s Secrecy (a tale set in 17th Century Italy) that reads as follows: “Mauve and yellow flowers filled the blank screen of my eyelids, the petals loosening and drifting downwards on to smooth grey stone. I kissed the soft bristles in the hollow of her armpit.”

When it came to Fielding’s latest Bridget Jones novel, Mad About The Boy, however, judges admitted to “agonising” over a passage before deciding that it did not make the cut.

An encounter between the famous singleton and an ex-army officer – “‘Oh, oh,’ I gasped. ‘Did they teach you this in the SAS?’” – was deemed “not quite cringeworthy enough”.

Now in its 21st year, The Literary Review Bad Sex in Fiction Award exists to recognise the “most egregious passage of sexual description” in a novel. It seeks to “draw attention to the crude, badly written, often perfunctory use of redundant passages of sexual description in the modern novel, and to discourage it”.

Last year’s winner was Canadian author Nancy Huston for her book Infrared.