The late Norman Mailer was awarded yesterday the fifteenth annual Bad Sex in Fiction Award for a passage in his last novel The Castle in the Forest (Random House, 2007). The award was established in 1993 by the London magazine the Literary Review "to draw attention to the crude, tasteless, often perfunctory use of redundant passages of sexual description in the modern novel, and to discourage it."
Mailer’s novel, a fictionalized account of Adolph Hitler’s family life as told by a demon, includes an incestuous scene between the dictator’s mother and uncle, who, according to the book, is also Hitler’s father.
The finalists for this year’s award were Gary Shteyngart for Absurdistan (Random House, 2006), Richard Milward for Apples (Faber and Faber, 2007), Ali Smith for Girl Meets Boy (Canongate, 2007), Jeanette Winterson for The Stone Gods (Hamish Hamilton, 2007), Christopher Rush for Will (Beautiful Books, 2007), Clare Clark for The Nature of Monsters (Harcourt, 2007), and David Thewlis for The Late Hector Kipling (Simon & Schuster, 2007).
Mailer, whose first novel, The Naked and the Dead (Rinehart, 1948), brought him critical acclaim at age twenty-five, had published over forty books, including The Executioner’s Song (Little, Brown, 1979), which won the Pulitzer Prize in fiction. His book Armies of the Night (New American Library, 1963) won the Pulitzer Prize in nonfiction. Mailer died on November 10 at age eighty-four.
For an excerpt from Mailer’s novel, as well as passages from the shortlisted titles, visit the Literary Review Web site.