Binet was shortlisted for her novel The Seventh Function of Language for the sentence: “Bianca grabs Simon’s d—, which is hot and hard as if it’s just come out of a steel forge, and connects it to her mouth-machine.” Smith, meanwhile, was recognised for his book War Cry, in which he had written: “He kissed her and she responded and the boundaries between them blurred, like two watercolours on a piece of paper, joining as one to create something entirely new”. Welby missed out on the main prize with her depiction of a coupling: “The green grass curls around Tera’s left breast as she curves her sleek physique around Matty’s diabolical torso like a vine. Paralysed, complete, the marble statue of the lovers allows itself to be painted by the dawn’s lurid orange spillage”.
Many suggested that Open Arms, the novel by Vince Cable, should have been considered, but Literary Review stated that it was ineligible due to its author being a Member of Parliament.
Previous winners of the prize include Melvyn Bragg, during its inaugural year in 1993, Tom Wolfe (2004) and Morrissey, who is famously celibate, in 2015.