April 5, 2012

Oddest Book Title of the Year award-winner named


I know, I know, we’re supposed to be a bunch of highbrows over here at Melville House. Britain’s Independent newspaper called us an “upscale” publisher, some academic in Australia has credited us with starting a movement for — near as I can tell — a nouveau nouveau roman, and yaddda yadda yadda. So what were we talking about in the office today? Yes, Cooking with Poo!

News out of London — a report here, courtesy of The Bookseller — is that Cooking With Poo, “a Thai cookbook penned by Bangkok resident Saiyuud Diwong and published in Australia,” has won the 32nd annual Diagram Prize for Oddest Book Title of the Year award, handed out by the The Bookseller itself.

The book’s title is based on the author’s nickname, which is Thai for “crab.”

“Thank you everyone,” the author said in a statement. “I am lucky to have such a funny nickname, it helps my business a lot!”

And actually, the award this year may effect some good, beyond making authors and publishers think more carefully about their titles. According to the Bookseller report, Diwong …

… 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!”

Meanwhile, no word on whether the world was also improved by the finalist position of the runners-up:

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%

And let us not miss the opportunity to remind you of the story of a previous winner, How to Avoid Huge Ships.

And while we’re at it, here’s a list of some previous winners, in response to a poll (yes, a poll of a poll) at The Telegraph:

Top 10 previous winners of the award

10. Versailles: The View From Sweden (1988)

9. American Bottom Archaeology (1993)

8. Last Chance at Love – Terminal Romances (1981)

7. Highlights in the History of Concrete (1994)

6. Oral Sadism and the Vegetarian Personality (1986)

5. How to Avoid Huge Ships (1992)

4. Butterworths Corporate Manslaughter Service (2001)

3. Proceedings of the Second International Workshop on Nude Mice (1978)

2. If You Want Closure in Your Relationship, Start with Your Legs (2007)

1. How to Shit in the Woods: An Environmentally Sound Approach to a Lost Art (1989)

 Those look like some nouveau roman titles to me.


Dennis Johnson is the founder of MobyLives, and the co-founder and co-publisher of Melville House.