LONDON — An out-of-this-world sex scene invoking stars, supernovas and statisticians has won U.S.-based writer Manil Suri the uncoveted Bad Sex in Fiction Award.
Suri, a novelist and mathematician, won the annual British prize for a passage in his novel "The City of Devi," in which the characters "streak like superheroes past suns and solar systems, we dive through shoals of quarks and atomic nuclei."
The passage climaxes: "In celebration of our breakthrough fourth star, statisticians the world over rejoice."
Suri, a professor of mathematics at the University of Maryland, was not on hand Tuesday to accept his award in person. A representative of his publisher, Bloomsbury, accepted the prize from former "Dynasty" star Joan Collins at a ceremony in London.
"The City of Devi," Suri's third novel, is the story of a love triangle set in Mumbai, which has been threatened with nuclear apocalypse.
The book's publisher pointed out that some reviewers had praised the novel's sex scenes, which the Times Literary Supplement called "unfettered, quirky, beautiful, tragic and wildly experimental."
Suri beat other finalists including Susan Choi, Rupert Thompson and folk singer Woody Guthrie, nominated for the posthumously published novel "House of Earth."
The tongue-in-cheek award was founded in 1993 to name and shame authors of "crude, badly written or perfunctory" passages of sexual description in contemporary novels." It is run by the Literary Review magazine.
Previous recipients of the dubious honor, usually accepted with good grace, include Sebastian Faulks, the late Norman Mailer and the late John Updike, who was awarded a Bad Sex lifetime achievement award in 2008.