The 2009 Diagram Prize: A Prequel
02.02.10 | Horace Bent
Advances in Potato Chemistry and Technology, Collectible Spoons of the Third Reich and An Intellectual History of Cannibalism are just three of the record-breaking number of submissions for the 2009 Diagram Prize for Oddest Book Title of the Year.
And we have Twitter to thank for that.
In total, I received 90 submissions — almost three times as many as I received last year (32) — and 50 of the 90 submissions came via Twitter.
However, the correlation between number of submissions and number of submissions of an inferior quality proved to be a strong one, as my incredibly scientifiv graph below shows:
Numerous submissions, somewhat unfortunately, had to be excluded, including: Sketches of a Few Jellyfish (1880), On Sledge and Horseback to Outcast Siberian Lepers (1895), and The Sacrosanct Foreskin of Christ in the Cult and Theology of the Papish Church of Berlin (1907), for being too old, while Motorcycles, Rare Frogs and Water Shrew Habitat of Kanaka Creek and The Religious Psycho Killer’s Shit List, were excluded for falling foul of the prize’s harsh-but-fair “properly published” criteria – we don’t want someone uploading an oddly-titled few pages of illiterate ramblings to AuthorHouse and then running away with the world’s most prestigious literary award, after all.
But after much research into publication dates and publishing houses, I have finally managed to whittle down the 90 submissions into an incredibly-long list of 49 titles.
What happens now is that I and a panel of the UK book trade’s brightest minds will attempt to separate the wheat from the chaff and, over the coming days, come up with a much shorter list of oddly-titled world literature. Call it a shortlist, if you insist.
The three titles mentioned at the beginning of this blog are all in with a strong chance of making the shortlist, as is The Master Cheesemakers of Wisconsin, Dental Management of Sleep Disorders and Mickey Mouse, Hitler and Nazi Germany.
I am delighted to report that SLACK Inc have received two nominations this year: The Changing World of Inflammatory Bowel Disease and Curbside Consultation in Cornea and External Disease – an eye-poppingly good companion to last year’s laugh-riot, Curbside Consultation of the Colon.
VDM (Verlag Dr Müller), the academic research publisher, has also received two submissions: Food Digestion and Thermal Preference of Toad and Map-based Comparative Genomics in Legumes – both of which are available at under £75 a pop. Super.
The public penchant for the profane remains. How else to explain the appearance of The Origin of Faeces, Peek-a-poo: What’s in Your Diaper?, Venus Does Adonis While Apollo Shags a Tree, Father Christmas Needs a Wee, and Is the Rectum a Grave? on the Very Longlist?
One day I foresee a great tragedy when the ONLY submissions are books with titles that can be read as double-entendres for the male organ. Or contain the word “poo”. Don’t make me cancel the prize again, dear readers!
Anyway . . .
Tune in on Friday 19th February for the announcement of the shortlist for The Diagram Prize for Oddest Book Title of the Year. Until then, happy recession economic recovery!