He has never been one to actively avoid controversy but the latest page in the life of Steven Patrick Morrissey is a little bizarre, even by his standards. His novel “List of the Lost” was not well received this year by most literary critics, yet may still end up scooping a well-established annual prize for literature.

Former 80s star now author

The erstwhile frontman with the iconic 80s band The Smiths has been shortlisted for a gong at the rather quaintly named 2015 Bad Sex Awards. Now in its 23rd year, the annual awards ceremony is run by the Literary Review.

To be in with a chance of the top prize, authors must pen a piece of Fiction that includes the most “egregious passage of sexual description” contained within its pages.

Awards draw attention to “poorly written” passages

Rather than praising the writer for their literary efforts, the awards have been set up with a view to highlight what in the judges’ opinion amounts to “poorly written” and “redundant passages of sexual description” contained within the Books shortlisted. The nominations exclude works of fiction relating explicitly to pornographic or other erotic literature of that genre.

The particular passage from the musical wordsmith’s book that attracted the panel’s attention did indeed contain an interesting term of phrase.

Reference to a “giggling snowball of full-figured copulation” was intriguing enough. To follow that with the imagery of a character having “barrel-rolled” breasts and a man with a “bulbous salutation” would be enough to amuse many a casual reader no doubt.

Poor reviews

Reviews have been generally unflattering since the new book was published in late September.

Michael Hann wrote in The Guardian that it was an “unpolished turd” and advised the newspaper’s readers: “Do not read this book”. Nico Hines reviewed the book for The Daily Beast, calling it a “bizarre misogynistic ramble.” Writing in the Financial Times, Ludovic Hunter-Tilney balanced the debate by highlighting a few “viciously turned barbs” included among the book’s 118 pages, although he was generally equally scathing overall.

So what is it all about?

The book has a slightly odd general storyline. It centres on a track relay team from the 1970s based in Boston, America, who kill a demon by accident, with the consequence that they become cursed by the aforementioned evil spirit.

All publicity, good publicity?

All publicity relating to a new book launch is usually welcomed, yet to find yourself included among the titles vying for such an award could be viewed as a touch bittersweet in this case. No great accolades other than a certain notoriety can be gleaned from the potential victory for which Morrissey has been quickly inserted as the pre-vote favourite.

The Penguin publication “List of the Lost” is Morrissey’s second book, following on the heels of his autobiography from 2013 which was also released by the same renowned publishers.

Inspiration from previous winners?

Previous winners of the Bad Sex Award have included last year’s victor Ben Okri, who was ‘honoured’ for his work “The Age of Magic”. The internationally acclaimed author Okri won the prestigious Booker Prize for Fiction in 1991, so maybe there is hope for Morrissey yet on the writing front.

Morrissey won’t have long to wait for the announcement, with this year’s winner due to be disclosed on 1st December. Cue a mass rush online and to bookstores across the country no doubt with Christmas approaching!