Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation

Carnal fiction: the most salacious and sordid literary sex scenes

"The thing inside her jerked and threshed, a rising salmon, plunging home to spawn"

Ask any author what the most difficult part of a novel is, and the answer will likely be not the closing line or plot, but penning a convincing sex scene. From Madame Bovary to modern day Mills & Boon classics, novelists have for centuries attempted to capture the essence of lust, passion, uncertainty and sheer adrenaline that sex conjures up, with varying levels of success.

With the announcement today that Ben Okri has scooped the 2014 Bad Sex In Fiction award (for his book The Age of Magic), we look at some of best, worst and most surreal excerpts from sex scenes that literature has had to offer over the ages - starting with five contenders for this year's Literary Review prize.

Prepare yourself for some obscure metaphors, explicit language and all-round hanky panky - with a fair smattering of howling and thrusting along the way...



Do women need erotic literature?


40 must-see erotic films and books


Fifty Shades of frustration?



The ultimate guide to securing Glastonbury tickets this weekend

From speedy typing to perseverance; all the need-to-know tips by Harriet Hall

02 Oct 2015

The best life advice from 90s TV shows

"Seize the moment, ‘cause tomorrow you might be dead” by Amy Lewis

02 Oct 2015

Miscarriage empathy cards tackle the difficult topic of pregnancy loss

“We need to have various ways to reach different types of people in their different types of loss" by Amy Lewis

02 Oct 2015

Iranian men unite on social media in drive for gender equality

“I, an iranian man, am ashamed of the article 18 of the passport law, my wife! you are free.” by Harriet Hall

02 Oct 2015

Batch breakfast recipes to buy you more time in the morning

Never skip breakfast again. by Sejal Kapadia

01 Oct 2015

A real life burn book: the app that lets you rate other people

"A positivity app for positive people.” by Harriet Hall

01 Oct 2015

Bride sends guests a bill after they failed to show up at wedding

Fair play or a step too far? by Sejal Kapadia

01 Oct 2015

Found: the mystery couple behind this spectacular wedding image

“The rain stopped just as the sun was hitting the bridge and the couple walked out over the platform” by Amy Lewis

01 Oct 2015

10 high-flying women who began their careers as interns

From Mindy Kaling to Oprah Winfrey

01 Oct 2015

Leading female surgeon hits out at endemic culture of sexism

“As the only woman, you're asked to make the tea” by Harriet Hall

01 Oct 2015