Each year, The Bookseller announces the winner of its “Diagram prize,” awarded to the strangest book title of the year. Content doesn’t matter, nor does quality—it’s all about the title, baby!
This year’s winner was Alan Stafford’s Too Naked For the Nazis, which is a terrific title that edged out Reading From Behind: A Cultural History of the Anus. Too Naked is the nonfiction tale of a music hall musical trio called Wilson, Keppel, and Betty that performed in revealing Egyptian costumes in the ‘30s and pissed off the Nazis. Stafford submitted the book for consideration himself, and is reportedly delighted that he’ll win the “passable bottle of claret” given to the winning author.
“Mr Stafford’s Twitter electioneering for his book bordered on an Ahabian monomania,” said Bookseller’s editor Tom Tivnan. And why not? I think writers have recognised that winning the Diagram could mean a boost in sale of tens, maybe even as much as a hundred copies. High stakes indeed. More likely, they are probably after the free bottle of plonk we give to the nominator.”
The quotes get even better. Here’s Horace Bent, Bookseller’s “diarist,” on Stafford’s win:
“When future historians write about 2016, they will inevitably look at two seismic events: the closest Diagram prize race of all time, and the election of President Trump which led to the downfall of western civilisation.
Until that dire time, we can celebrate a worthy winner from one of the strongest Diagram shortlists in recent memory. Too Naked for the Nazis is arguably the perfect Diagram winner, as if concocted by a team of crack Diagramologists – our voters’ penchant for nudity goes back to the very first winner, 1978’s Proceedings of the Second International Workshop on Nude Mice, while the Third Reich has been represented by titles such as How Green were the Nazis (2007). Mr Stafford has brought these two strands together in one irresistible package.”
Now, if you want to read more about Stafford’s book, click that Guardian link above. Personally, I want to see where Too Naked for the Nazis fits in with the great winners of the past, since the invention of the prize in 1978. Can it compete with 2010’s Managing a Dental Practice: The Genghis Khan Way? Or 1990’s Lesbian Sadomasochism Safety Manual? Or the inaugural winner in ‘78, Proceedings of the Second International Workshop on Nude Mice? Or the simple brilliance of 2011’s Cooking With Poo?
Check out all the winners on Wikipedia (hey, why wasn’t there an award in 1991?), and sound off below on your favorite. This is important.