Cooking with Poo, a Thai cookbook penned by Bangkok resident Saiyuud Diwong and published in Australia, has trumped its rivals to scoop The Bookseller's coveted Diagram Prize for Oddest Book Title of the Year award.
The 114-page cookbook was crowned the winner having received the majority share of the public vote at thebookseller.com and its sister consumer website welovethisbook.com. In total, 1,363 votes were cast, with the breakdown as follows:
1) Cooking with Poo by Saiyuud Diwong (Urban Neighbours of Hope) 38%
2) Mr Andoh’s Pennine Diary: Memoirs of a Japanese Chicken Sexer in 1935 Hebden Bridge by Stephen Curry and Takayoshi Andoh (Royd Press) 22%
3) The Great Singapore Penis Panic and the Future of American Mass Hysteria by Scott D Mendelson (Createspace) 13%
4) Estonian Sock Patterns All Around the World by Aino Praakli (Elmatar) 12%
5) The Mushroom in Christian Art by John A Rush (North Atlantic Books) 8%
6) A Taxonomy of Office Chairs by Jonathan Olivares (Phaidon) 4%
7) A Century of Sand Dredging in the Bristol Channel: Volume Two by Peter Gosson (Amberley) 3%
Horace Bent, The Bookseller’s legendary diarist and custodian of the prize said: “Given that this year the three most voted-for works contain the words ‘poo’, ‘sexer’ and ‘penis’ in the title, it appears that this year’s prize will go down in history as a blue year. But there is nothing wrong with that. Many of the world’s greatest writers have dabbled in off-colour humour, so I find Cooking with Poo a fitting winner.”
Diwong's nickname is "Poo" (Thai for "crab"), hence the title, and she is a resident of the Klong Toey slum, the largest slum in the city of Bangkok. Diwong runs the Helping Hands Thai Cookery School in the slum—a community self-help programme created in partnership with the Urban Neighbours of Hope (UNOH) charitable organisation that publishes the winning book.
Diwong said on winning the award: "Thank you everyone. I am lucky to have such a funny nickname, it helps my business a lot!"
Anji Barker, Senior Social Worker of UNOH Bangkok, told The Bookseller: “We knew the whole world loved Poo but now it is official! She is an amazing lady with an amazing program that helps other poor people in Bangkok’s largest slum community. Thanks to everyone who voted. It really is changing lives of poor people here in Bangkok!"
The Diagram Prize for Oddest Book Title of the Year is awarded retrospectively, so Cooking with Poo wins the award for books published in 2011. Previous winners of this prestigious literary prize include: Greek Rural Postmen and Their Cancellation Numbers, Highlights in the History of Concrete and Bombproof Your Horse.
Philip Stone, the prize administrator, said: “Cooking with Poo’s win is not only a victory for Diwong and her publisher, but a victory for the high street bookshop. At a time when printed book sales are plummeting due to the uptake of ebooks, the cookery sector has remained resilient—no doubt because all those lavishly-illustrated, colourful, glossy cookbooks by Jamie, Nigella, Delia, etc, resemble a dog’s dinner on an e-reader.”
Ed Wood, editor of We Love This Book, said: “Continuing the grand tradition of Chaucer and “Carry On”, Cooking with Poo has clearly appealed to the British love of toilet humour. The winner will be flushed with pride.”
The Diagram Prize for Oddest Book Title of the Year, conceived as a way to avoid boredom at the annual Frankfurt Book Fair, was first awarded in 1978 to Proceedings of the Second International Workshop on Nude Mice. It was the idea of Bruce Robertson, the founder of publishing firm The Diagram Group hence the name of the award.
Traditionally, the spotter of the winning title receives a bottle of “fairly passable” plonk, but as Cooking with Poo was unearthed indirectly via Twitter, The Bookseller will instead be making a donation to Urban Neighbours of Hope.