A while ago I subscribed to emails from The Bookseller, the trade magazine for publishing in the UK. I did this for the worthy reason that it’s a good place to look for opportunities for freelance proofreading and copy-editing.
Today they sent me a very nice change from the usual email full of publishing jobs. It invited me to “Vote on the world’s most prestigious literary prize”. The Diagram Prize, to be precise. I confess that I’d never heard of it, however prestigious it may be.
I read on:
The Diagram Prize is an annual award bestowed upon the book carrying the oddest title of the year . . .
Run by The Bookseller magazine, the prize was first awarded in 1978 – to Proceedings of the Second International Workshop on Nude Mice – and was conceived to alleviate boredom during the Frankfurt Book Fair.
Ah. So prestigious is being used somewhat loosely, to mean entertaining. Rather as an IgNobel Prize is the world’s most prestigious science prizes.
There was a list of book titles, and finally an invitation to forward the email to “any odd friends that like books or friends that like odd books”. But blogging about it seemed more fun, so I’ve done that instead.
The books in this year’s shortlist are:
- Collectible Spoons of the 3rd Reich, by James A Yannes
- Afterthoughts of a Worm Hunter, by D W T Crompton
- Governing Lethal Behavior in Autonomous Robots, by Ronald C Arkin
- The Changing World of Inflammatory Bowel Disease, by Ellen Scherl and Marla Dubinsky
- Crocheting Adventures with Hyperbolic Planes, by Daina Taimina
- What Kind of Bean Is This Chihuahua?, by Tara Jansen-Meyer
Titles from the “very longlist” which sadly didn’t make it to the shortlist include How YOU™ Are Like Shampoo and Map-based Comparative Genomics in Legumes. Last year’s winner was The 2009–2014 World Outlook for 60 mg Containers of Fromage Frais by Prof. Philip M Parker.
Clearly this is an important award. I didn’t see any mention of what the winner receives—a 60 mg container of fromage frais, maybe?—but the stakes are high.
Winners are announced on March 26th. You can vote by visiting http://www.thebookseller.com/ and scrolling down to just below Blogs in the left-hand column. You can read more about the shortlisting in Spoons, Chihuahuas, and Autonomous Robots make Odd Title shortlist, and more about the prize in general by using this search on their website.
I voted for the spoons.
The winner has now been announced. It is Crocheting Adventures with Hyperbolic Planes by Daina Taimina, and you can read about it here. Scroll to the comments section to see the author’s response to winning.