February 22, 2008 / 4:02 PM / 10 years ago

"Are Women Human?" And other publishing highlights

LONDON (Reuters) - They may not leap off the shelves into the best-seller category, but the books shortlisted for the oddest book title prize certainly grab the attention.

“I was Tortured by the Pygmy Love Queen” recounts the tale of a fictional U.S. World War Two fighter pilot who is captured by jungle pygmies led by a sadistic woman.

Its sequel, which is not on the shortlist released by trade publication The Bookseller (www.thebookseller.com) Friday, needs no explanation: “Go Ahead, Woman, Do Your Worst.”

“How to Write a How to Write Book” and “Cheese Problems Solved” are likewise self-explanatory as is the equally eclectic niche tome “People who Mattered in Southend and Beyond: From King Canute to Dr. Feelgood” that strives to put the English east coast resort on the map.

While none of the above may challenge the sensibilities too much, others are likely to prove more divisive. Try “If You Want Closure in Your Relationship, Start With Your Legs” or “Are Women Human? And other International Dialogues.”

“I confess: I have been anxious that as publishing becomes ever more corporate, the trade’s quirky charms are being squeezed out,” said Horace Bent, The Bookseller diarist and custodian of the prize.

“But happily my fears have been proved unfounded: oddity lives on. Drawing up the six-strong shortlist was a fraught and wildly controversial process.”

Bent paid tribute to those books that failed to make the list, including titles such as “Drawing and Painting the Undead” and “Glory Remembered: Wooden Headgear of Alaska Sea Hunters,” wishing them better luck next year.

Literary enthusiasts wishing to cast a vote can visit the Web site. The winner will be announced on March 28.

Reporting by Jeremy Lovell; editing by Elizabeth Piper

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