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One of the UK’s strangest book prizes has just been announced: the Diagram Prize for the Oddest Title of the Year. As the name suggests, it is exactly that –a prize for the oddest title of the year, regardless of the content of the book.
Previous winners have been gems. Who could forget the 1994 winner Highlights in the History of Concrete, published by the British Cement Association? What about Divorcing a Real Witch, which has the subtitle ‘For Pagans and the people who used to love them’? Or the mouthful that is the 2005 winner, People Who Don’t Know They’re Dead: How They Attach Themselves to Unsuspecting Bystanders and What to Do About It, bravely published by Red Wheel/Weiser Books of Newburyport, Massachusetts? It deals with the intriguing subject of dead spirits that take up residence in bodies that don’t belong to them.
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 passing the time in between appointments at Frankfurt. It was first awarded to Proceedings of the Second International Workshop on Nude Mice, published by the University of Tokyo Press, which, as you of course know, was a report of medical studies done using laboratory mice with inhibited immune systems.
The Bookseller magazine and its diarist Horace Bent have administered the prize since 1982, and the entry requirements are simple: the book must have been published for the first time anywhere in the world in the English language from 1 January 2016 to 31 December 2016. In particular, the magazine is looking for titles that are not intentionally funny – a subtle, but important difference. If you have a title in mind, send the details to [email protected]