Baboons, colons, sieves vie for odd book-title prize

Sunday, February 22, 2009

LONDON -- Books about baboons, colons and a French dairy product are among the finalists announced Friday for the Diagram Prize for year's oddest book title.

"Baboon Metaphysics," an academic study of primates in Botswana by Dorothy L. Cheney and Robert M. Seyfarth, is a strong contender for Britain's quirkiest book prize, which salutes the unsung, unusual and just plain odd corners of the publishing world.

The finalists range from business books -- "The 2009-2014 World Outlook for 60-milligram Containers of Fromage Frais," by Philip M. Parker -- to a medical tome, "Curbside Consultation of the Colon," by Brooks D. Cash.

Some of the titles are enigmatic. Emmanuel Kowalski's "The Large Sieve and its Applications" is about arithmetic rather than kitchenware. Disappointingly, Mark Hordyszynski's "Strip and Knit with Style" does not involve naked knitting. It is a manual on craft projects using strips of cloth.

The remaining contender is "Techniques for Corrosion Monitoring," by Lietai Yang.

The prize, run by trade magazine The Bookseller, was founded in 1978.

Philip Stone, a sales analyst at The Bookseller, said choosing the finalists had been particularly difficult this year.

"Six seems such a cruelly low number given titles such as 'Excrement in the Late Middle Ages' and 'All Dogs Have ADHD' were rejected," he said.

Previous winners of the prize include "The Stray Shopping Carts of Eastern North America: A Guide to Field Identification" and "People Who Don't Know They're Dead: How They Attach Themselves to Unsuspecting Bystanders and What to Do About It."

The winner will be chosen by the public through an online vote at The winner will be announced March 27.

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