By Carolyn Kellogg
7:21 PM EST, December 4, 2012
England's most feared literary prize was announced Tuesday night -- "awarded" wouldn't be the right word, because the winning author was not in attendance. That was Nancy Huston, who took the 2012 Bad Sex in Fiction Award for her novel "Infrared."
The Bad Sex in Fiction Award is presented by the Literary Review, the longstanding British literary journal. While all in good fun, it's not a prize that authors hope to win. Although Huston did beat out some pretty stiff competition, including American author Tom Wolfe -- as a prior winner, he was considered by some to be a favorite.
The judges cited "Infrared" passages such as "flesh, that archaic kingdom that brings forth tears and terrors, nightmares, babies and bedazzlements," and a long one building to a climax of “undulating space where the undulating skies make your non-body undulate.”
Huston has plenty of weighty literary awards to counteract this one: She has won the Prix Goncourt, France's highest literary honor; been a finalist for the Orange Prize; received the Canadian Governor's General Award for Fiction in French; and been awarded the Prix Femina. Although she was not at the Bad Sex awards, she seemed to take the prize in stride.
In a statement, she said she hoped the win would "incite thousands of British women to take close-up photos of their lovers' bodies in all states of array and disarray."
Previous winners of the Bad Sex in Fiction award include Norman Mailer, Jonathan Littell and Sebastian Faulks. In 2008, John Updike was given the lifetime achievement award.
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