The Washington Post

Oedipus story ‘Ed King’ receives Bad Sex in Literature Award

A rewrite of the ultimate story of bad sex — Oedipus — has just been declared the winner of the Literary Review’s Bad Sex in Literature Award. David Guterson, famous for his debut novel “Snow Falling on Cedars,” has been deemed this year’s worst sex writer for “Ed King,” his modern retelling of the story of the myth of Oedipus, the original mama’s boy.

"Ed King: A Novel" by David Guterson (Knopf)

Other contenders for the prize included Stephen King, Haruki Murakami and James Frey, but Guterson was the “clear winner,” the Literary Review's assistant editor Jonathan Beckman told The Guardian. Guterson’s over-reliance on euphemisms like “family jewels,” “back door,” and “front parlour” helped him clinch the prize.

"He says in brackets that these are quaint, prudish terms, but I don't think that is sufficient justification for using them," said Beckman. "He's trying to find a way of writing about sex but it comes across as awkward and self-conscious ... It doesn't quite come off."

Guterson’s winning excerpt isn’t quite fit for a family news site, so we won’t be quoting it here. It is, indeed, awkward — but isn’t that how it should be, given the circumstances of the novel?

Maura Judkis covers culture, food, and the arts.


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