The 2023 Diagram Prize for the Oddest Book Title of the Year shortlist sees publishers from the USA claim all six spots.

From The Bookseller:

Tuck into some grits, crank up the Lynyrd Skynyrd and set yo’self down on the verandah with a mint julep, y’all, as the Southern US of A is the major story of the 45th Diagram Prize for Oddest Book Title of the Year. Five of the six books on the 2023 shortlist were released by firms hailing from Dixie, including two from Diagram powerhouse, North Carolina-based academic publisher McFarland & Co.

McFarland has risen from obscurity to claim its Manchester City-like grip on the Diagram, winning the last two crowns on the trot with 2021’s Is Superman Circumcised? and last year’s RuPedagogies of Realness: Essays on Teaching and Learning With RuPaul’s Drag Race. McFarland’s back-to-back Diagrams were a first, as were its record three shortlistings on the 2022 list. Alas, it is a “mere” two titles this time round for McFarland, though it becomes the only publisher to have hit the shortlist for three successive years. First up is a festive outing with The 12 Days of Christmas: The Outlaw Carol that Wouldn’t DieHarry Rand’s look at the scabrous origins of that interminable song.

McFarland’s, ahem, number two title is I Fart in your General Direction: Flatulence in Popular Culture which has a good chance of the trophy if it gets a following wind. I regretfully admit there is a Diagram tradition for books referencing body functions doing well (shame on you, voters!), stretching back to the 10th winner, 1989’s How to Shit in the Woods: An Environmentally Sound Approach to a Lost Art, to recent champions such as A Dog Pissing at the Edge of a Path: Animal Metaphors in Eastern Indonesian Society (2020) and Cooking with Poo (2011). I feel obliged to say, as I do whenever mentioning the 2011 gong, that “Poo” is author Saiyuud Diwong’s nickname, and is Thai for “crab”.

McFarland’s two shortlistings are matched by a brace from University of Virginia Press. Jeremy Chow’s The Queerness of Water: Troubled Ecologies in the Eighteenth Century considers canonical texts such as Gulliver’s Travels and Frankenstein through an environmental and queer studies lens. Matthew F Jordan’s Danger Sound Klaxon! The Horn That Changed History, meanwhile, charts the “meteoric rise and eventual fall” of the Klaxon automobile horn. You know, the old fashioned one that goes “ah-wooo-ga”.

Our last Southern belle is the University of Georgia Press-published Backvalley Ferrets: A Rewilding of the Colorado Plateau which perhaps mines the same outdoorsy/slightly naughty seam as 2019’s winner, Charles L Dobbins’ hunting guide The Dirt Hole and its Variations.

Link to the rest at The Bookseller

PG couldn’t resist including a couple of earlier Diagram Prize winners:

2 thoughts on “The 2023 Diagram Prize for the Oddest Book Title of the Year shortlist sees publishers from the USA claim all six spots.”

  1. Of these, the horse book may be a valuable thing (if it gives good information). As anyone who has horses in or close to an urban environment know, it is critical to train them to ignore horns, sirens, car crashes, and vehicular compensators for small size.

    The ferret one could be interesting to someone involved in rewilding endeavors. The ferret, in its natural state, fills the same niche as other small predators, like foxes.

    The rest are simply titles dreamed up for their shock value, and probably not all that interesting or useful (possibly the Thai cookbook, I’ve never heard of him, but he should never have let them use that as the title).

    Oh, last minute edit – I also recommend the Niven story. Absolutely hilarious.

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