Awards: Baillie Gifford Nonfiction; Bad Sex in Fiction

David France won the £30,000 (about $40,015) Baillie Gifford Prize for Nonfiction for How to Survive a Plague. Chair of the judges Peter Bazalgette commented: "In our winner we were looking for something that is incredibly well written, enjoyable and also important. How to Survive a Plague is all of these things and also works on three levels: it's the personal story of a gay man, the history of the prejudice that gay men faced during the AIDS epidemic and the worldwide scientific story of the search for a treatment for AIDS."

Sarah Whitley, partner of Baillie Gifford and chair of its sponsorship committee, praised How to Survive a Plague as "a book that combines a very important piece of social history, unforgettable to those of us who were young adults in the early 1980s, describes collective action in the face of official intransigence and also outlines the ultimate achievement of controlling a modern plague."


Seven books have made the shortlist for this year's Bad Sex in Fiction Award, presented annually by the Literary Review to "an author who has produced an outstandingly bad scene of sexual description in an otherwise good novel." The "winner" will be announced on November 30. The Guardian helpfully featured "the contenders in quotes." Although the Literary Review said at the time of the shortlist announcement, "nominations continue to come in," the 2017 finalists are:

The Seventh Function of Language by Laurent Binet
The Destroyers by Christopher Bollen
Mother of Darkness by Venetia Welby
As a God Might Be by Neil Griffiths
The Future Won't Be Long by Jarett Kobek
War Cry by Wilbur Smith (with David Churchill)
Here Comes Trouble by Simon Wroe

"Many people also nominated Vince Cables novel Open Arms for consideration," the Literary Review noted. "However, Open Arms does not qualify simply because its author is a Member of Parliament."

The magazine's Frank Brinkley told the Guardian he had noticed an improvement in the sex scenes in this year's fiction: "There's plenty of sex around (such as in Patrick Ness) but a lot of it is quite good. Maybe we are having an effect--definitely literary fiction's changing and the 'Oh sod it, I'll put in a sex scene' attitude that prompted the creation of the award has pretty much fallen by the wayside. Maybe publishers aren't pushing for it in the way that 'sex sells' was used as a prompt 15 years ago, either. All to the good."

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