Two writers have won the 2019 Literary Review Bad Sex In Fiction Award, after the judges struggled to pick just one winner.

French author Didier Decoin and John Harvey, a life fellow at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, have both been announced as winners of the tongue-in-cheek prize.

The judges were swayed by steamy passages in Decoin’s book The Office Of Gardens And Ponds, and Harvey’s book, Pax.

They said in a statement: “We tried voting, but it didn’t work. We tried again.

“Ultimately there was no separating the winners.”

The judges added: “Faced with two unpalatable contenders, we found ourselves unable to choose between them. We believe the British public will recognise our plight.”

Other books shortlisted included The River Capture by Mary Costello, City Of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert and Dominic Smith’s The Electric Hotel.

The result was announced at a ceremony at the In & Out (Naval & Military) Club in St James’s Square, London, where the 400 guests raised a toast to the winners.

The aim of the prize, awarded since 1993, is to draw attention to poorly written, perfunctory or redundant passages of sexual description in modern fiction.