Author Jonathan Franzen says Britons’ prudish attitude to sex leads to harsh criticism of risque scenes in his books
- US novelist Jonathan Franzen, 62, saw his bestseller Freedom nominated for the Bad Sex in Fiction Award in 2010
- The Literary Review stated it showed ‘innuendo which comes over a bit Benny Hill’
- But Franzen said: ‘Sex is a big part of people’s lives, particularly young people’
The British have historically been seen as having a rather prudish attitude to sex.
And one person who may agree is US author Jonathan Franzen, who believes British readers are particularly harsh critics of risqué scenes in his books.
The novelist, 62, who was once shortlisted for a Pulitzer Prize, saw his bestseller Freedom nominated for the Literary Review’s Bad Sex in Fiction Award in 2010.
Jonathan Franzen, best-selling American author of Freedom, says his books have received harsh criticism for their sex scenes
At the Cheltenham Literary Festival he said: ‘It’s always weird talking about sex in my books in England because I feel like there’s a particularly harsh measure of what’s OK to write about and what’s not.
‘I think the Bad Sex Award is an English award, right? What was wrong with what I wrote? I don’t get it.’
His book was nominated for a phone sex scene in which he showed a ‘propensity for innuendo which comes over a bit Benny Hill’, the Literary Review said.
Another passage referred to ‘a protruding pencil of tenderness’.
He defended sex scenes in his sixth book Crossroads, adding: ‘Sex is a big part of people’s lives, particularly young people, and there are a lot of young people in this book.
‘I can’t just draw a curtain over it because how a particular moment of sex plays out is important.’
He also discussed white privilege in the talk, saying: ‘I’m a privileged white male writer and it is past time to be questioning in a serious way, collectively, what that privilege means.’