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okri-bad-sex-award

I’m just so delighted that an African author has finally won the Literary Review Bad Sex in Fiction Award. It’s been a long time coming. After all, Africa is the continent of awful descriptions of sex scenes in novels.

The UK-based Nigerian author, Ben Okri, wins the award for the description of a sex scene in his most recent novel titled The Age of Magic (2014).

Surely, there are a few exceptions like Tayeb Salih’s Seasons of Migration to the North {HERE} or Mongo Beti’s Poor Christ of Bomba {HERE}. But in general, reading a sex scene in an African novel can be as bad as watching Nollywood actors make out on screen.

After nearly one century of serenading the world with bad sex scenes, Ben Okri’s win means that Africa has finally gotten its long overdue recognition.

Bad Sex in Fiction Award is pretty self-explanatory. It’s given to a novel judged to have the worst sex scene.

Before you think it’s a silly idea, have you ever read a novel and cringed at how tasteless and forced the sex scene was? What’s the point of having a sex scene if it’s not genuinely titillating?

How did Ben Okri take the news? For someone who has won the Booker Prize and other prestigious awards, winning such an award left him a bit salty.

Asked what he thought about snagging the Bad Sex in Fiction Award, he gave this curt reply: “A writer writes what they write and that’s all there is to it.” 

But taking it all in good fun, Okri’s editor, Maggie McKernan, says: “Winning the award is fun but a bit undignified, just like sex, assuming you do it properly.”

You’re probably curious about the offending passage in Okri’s new novel. Well here it is:

When his hand brushed her nipple it tripped a switch and she came alight. He touched her belly and his hand seemed to burn through her. He lavished on her body indirect touches and bitter-sweet sensations flooded her brain. She became aware of places in her that could only have been concealed there by a god with a sense of humour.

Adrift on warm currents, no longer of this world, she became aware of him gliding into her. He loved her with gentleness and strength, stroking her neck, praising her face with his hands, till she was broken up and began a low rhythmic wail … The universe was in her and with each movement it unfolded to her. Somewhere in the night a stray rocket went off.”

Seriously? A rocket going off somewhere in the night?

Anyway, Okri shouldn’t feel too bad. The award actually places him in very fine company—with the likes of Norman Mailer and Tom Wolfe who won the award in 2007 and 2004, respectively, not to mention J. K. Rowling and Haruki Murakami who have been shortlisted.

I doubt the award comes with a cash prize. So even though Okri won’t be getting a check in the mail, I still want to say congrats!

 

*************************

{Thanks to MO for this}

Image by Ben Disinger via Flickr.

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I hold a doctorate in English from Duke University and recently joined the Marquette University English faculty as an Assistant Professor. I love teaching African fiction and contemporary British novels. Brittle Paper is the virtual space/station where I play and experiment with ideas on how to reinvent African fiction and literary culture.

3 Responses to “Ben Okri’s Rocket-Sex Scene Wins Him Bad Sex Award!” Subscribe

  1. Kiru Taye 2014/12/04 at 01:26 #

    I had to laugh out loud at the editor’s comments that ‘sex is undignified.’ She’s obviously not doing it right. 😉

  2. Bryan Hinkle Mugere 2014/12/04 at 04:05 #

    If I am not wrong, the Editor Maggie McKernan is somewhat ridiculous! “Winning the award is fun but a bit undignified, just like sex, assuming you do it properly.” Seriously????? Assuming it’s done right??? I think the rightness or wrongness of sex is relative. It might be slow, quick, wild, gentle, rapid or whatever. Okri presents it in the way typical of his male character. So, what then? You wanted him presenting it your way? Then that would have been your book, and your sex. This is his book and his character’s sex!

  3. Obinna Udenwe 2014/12/04 at 09:36 #

    Hahahahaha. So so bitter sweet!

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