British author Rowan Somerville won literature's little-coveted prize for the use of unsettling insect imagery in his novel "The Shape of Her."
Franzen was on the short list for the prize, along with Australia's Christos Tsiolkas - for "The Slap," Annabel Lyon for "The Golden Mean," Adam Ross for "Mr Peanut," Craig Raine for "Heartbreak" and Neel Mukherjee for "A Life Apart."
Judges of the annual literary award said they were especially impressed by a passage comparing lovemaking to "a lepidopterist mounting a tough-skinned insect."
The animal imagery continues elsewhere in the novel, a tale of desire and memory set on a Greek island. One character's fingers are described as "tender enough to hold a tiny bird."
But you won't be able to run out to get a copy - Somerville's book has not yet been published in the US.
The prize, founded in 1993 by Literary Review magazine, aims to draw attention to "the crude, tasteless, and often perfunctory use of redundant passages of sexual description in contemporary novels."
Somerville, who was born in Britain and lives in Ireland, took his victory in good humor, noting that "there is nothing more English than bad sex."
Previous winners include such literary heavyweights as Sebastian Faulks, Tom Wolfe, Norman Mailer and the late John Updike, who was awarded a lifetime achievement Bad Sex prize in 2008.
Last year's winner was "The Kindly Ones" by American author Jonathan Littell, which described a sex act as "a jolt that emptied my head like a spoon scraping the inside of a soft-boiled egg."