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American novelist Philip Roth has been shortlisted for the Bad Sex Award, alongside fellow-literary luminaries Amos Oz and Paul Theroux.

The Pulitzer Prize winner was shortlisted for the Literary Review's Bad Sex in Fiction Award 2009 for his latest book, The Humbling - the story of the seduction of a 'full breasted' lesbian by an ageing stage actor.

The novel includes a threesome scene and several references to a green-coloured sex toy.

The award was set up by the English writer and journalist Auberon Waugh to 'draw attention to the crude, tasteless, often perfunctory use of redundant passages of sexual description in the modern novel, and to discourage it'.

'Roth is very anxious about his description of sex,' said Jonathan Beckman of the Literary Review, which singled out a scene in which the two main characters have sex with a girl who is picked up from a local bar.

'Why write of a scene that repeatedly features a green dildo, 'this was not soft porn', unless you're worried that it might be taken as such,' Beckman told The Guardian.

By contrast, a review by Publishers Weekly on the website Amazon speaks glowingly of a 'tight Chekhovian tragedy' whose climax involving three-way sex 'might prove to be soul crushing'.

Sanjida O'Connell was the only woman to make the Bad Sex shortlist, selected for The Naked Name of Love, the story of a young Jesuit priest who is taught how to love by a gifted shaman woman on the eastern steppes of Mongolia.

Her website describes the novel as 'a beautiful story of West meeting East'.

The shortlist:

Paul Theroux (A Dead Hand), Nick Cave (The Death of Bunny Munro), Philip Roth (The Humbling), Jonathan Littell (The Kindly Ones), Amos Oz (Rhyming Life and Death), John Banville (The Infinities), Anthony Quinn (The Rescue Man), Simon Van Booy (Love Begins in Winter), Sanjida O'Connell (The Naked Name of Love) and Richard Milward (Ten Storey Love Song).


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