Working class cats, South African trout and pies as biography are all some of the topics up for scrutiny as part of the 2014 Diagram Prize for Oddest Book Title of the Year.
Six books have been selected from dozens of nominated titles, with the ultimate winner now chosen in a public vote on the Bookseller's sister website, We Love This Book.
The shortlisted titles are Working Class Cats: The Bodega Cats of New York City by Chris Balsiger and Erin Canning (SCB Distributed Publishers); Are Trout South African? by Duncan Brown (Picador South Africa); How to Poo on a Date by Mats & Enzo (Prion Books); Pie-ography: Where Pie Meets Biography by Jo Packham (Quarry); How to Pray When You're Pissed at God by Ian Punnett (Harmony); and The Origin of Feces by David Walter-Toews (ECW).
The prize was originally conceived in 1978 by Trevor Bounford, co-founder with Bruce Robertson of publishing solutions firm The Diagram Group, as a way of avoiding boredom at the annual Frankfurt Book Fair. It has been administered every year by The Bookseller and Horace Bent, the magazine's diarist.
Bent said: "I believe my fellow judges and I—after much discussion and robust debate that quite frankly often threatened to descend into fisticuffs—have come up with one of the strongest shortlists in The Diagram Prize’s over three-and-a-half decade history.
He added: “It is a truly inspiring list celebrating the art of title-making that goes from the sublime to the fantastic. It runs the gamut from a book with a Darwinian pun and a very liberal sprinkling of the S-bomb within its pages, to a title that hints at the heretofore unreported class struggle amongst the moggies of the Big Apple. ”
The first winner of the prize was Proceedings of the Second International Workshop on Nude Mice. Other winners throughout the years have included How to Avoid Huge Ships, Cooking with Poo, and last year's Goblinproofing One's Chicken Coop.
Greek Rural Postmen and their Cancellation Numbers was the winner of Diagram of Diagrams Prize in 2008, marking the 30th anniversary of the award.
Tom Tivan, features and insight editor at The Bookseller, said: "This year’s shortlist reveals once again that more than other literary awards—which superficially judge books on the content between the covers—The Diagram Prize taps into the zeitgeist. Working Class Cats will appeal to the great mass of people who spend their days watching cat videos on the internet when pretending to work; while the “Great British Bake-Off” contingent will be thrilled by Pie-ography’s inclusion. We also have a hard-hitting take on faith, and a look at national identity through an animal that is very tasty when sautéed in garlic butter and garnished with lemon and capers.
“And we have two books about poo.”
Votes can be cast on the We Love This Book website. Voting closes on Sunday 16th March, and the winner will be announced on Friday 21st March.