The prize was presented by the actress Joan Collins at lavish ceremony in central London on Tuesday night. As Manil Suri lives in America, a representative of his publishers, Bloomsbury, accepted it on his behalf.
The award is given to the author of the most egregious passage of sexual description in a novel this year - and the judges were won over by the climax of an extended sex scene involving all three characters in Devi's novel:
‘Surely supernovas explode that instant, somewhere, in some galaxy. The hut vanishes, and with it the sea and the sands – only Karun’s body, locked with mine, remains. We streak like superheroes past suns and solar systems, we dive through shoals of quarks and atomic nuclei. In celebration of our breakthrough fourth star, statisticians the world over rejoice.’
His publisher Bloomsbury said: “In accepting this award we challenge everyone to make up their own mind about Manil Suri’s T'he City of Devi'. As Tolstoy said in Anna Karenina, ‘There are as many kinds of love as there are hearts’. Take 'The City of Devi' home to bed with you tonight and discover sex scenes that the TLS praised as ‘unfettered, quirky, beautiful, tragic and wildly experimental,’ written by an author who, according to the Wall Street Journal, ‘captures the insecurity, the curiosity and even the comedy of those vulnerable moments’. As Jane Austen observed: ‘One half of the world cannot understand the pleasures of the other.’ Which half are you in?”
The City of Devi fought off stiff (as it were) competition - including Susan Choi’s 'My Education', Woody Guthrie’s 'House of Earth' and Eric Reinhardt’s 'The Victoria System'. Check out these (occasionally graphic) excerpts from some of the shortlisted passages below: