Entertainment & Arts

Too Naked for the Nazis named oddest book

Alan Stafford and the cover of Too Naked for the Nazis Image copyright Rolf Marriott/Fantom Films
Image caption Alan Stafford admitted the title of his book had attracted more attention than the book itself

Too Naked For The Nazis - a book about the career of a vaudeville trio - has won the Diagram Prize, awarded to the oddest book title of the year.

Author Alan Stafford had nominated his own book for the award run by The Bookseller magazine.

It beat Reading from Behind: A Cultural History of the Anus, with 24.8% of the public vote compared to 24.3%.

Stafford does not win a cash prize, but instead receives "a passable bottle of claret".

His book is a biography of musical hall act Wilson, Keppel and Betty - said to be "the inspiration for the Chuckle Brothers" - while Reading from Behind is an academic text.

Other works on the seven-strong shortlist for the prize, now in its 38th year, included Transvestite Vampire Biker Nuns from Outer Space and Soviet Bus Stops.

Image copyright The Bookseller
Image caption Seven titles were nominated for the prize

Stafford, from Ipswich, said: "I'm hugely grateful to everyone who took the trouble to vote for me. A good title not only tells the public what the book's about, sometimes it tells the author too.

"Too Naked For The Nazis pinpoints the central event of my book - when a trio of comedy Egyptian sand dancers incurred the wrath of the Nazi high command by a blatant exposure of hairy legs.

"It was when the title started provoking more comment than the book that I began to appreciate its worth."

Diagram Prize shortlist

  • Reading the Liver: Papyrological Texts on Ancient Greek Extispicy, by William Furley and Victor Gysembergh (an academic study on sacrificial sheep)
  • Too Naked for the Nazis, by Alan Stafford (a biography of a musical hall troupe)
  • Paper Folding with Children, by Alice Hornecke and translated by Anna Cardwell (origami for children)
  • Transvestite Vampire Biker Nuns from Outer Space: A Consideration of Cult Film, by Mark Kirwan-Hayhoe
  • Behind the Binoculars: Interviews with Acclaimed Birdwatchers, by Mark Avery and Keith Betton
  • Soviet Bus Stops, by Christopher Herwig (photographs of bus stops from the former Soviet Union)
  • Reading from Behind: A Cultural History of the Anus, by Jonathan Allan

Horace Bent, administrator of the prize, said it had been "the closest Diagram Prize race of all time".

He said: "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."

The Booksellers' Tom Tivnan added: "What is interesting is the trend for authors in the last couple of years to nominate their own books and then going out and actively campaigning for the prize; Mr Stafford's Twitter electioneering for his book bordered on an Ahabian monomania.

"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."

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