As usual it needs to be something special to win the Diagram prize for the oddest book title, especially when you are up against Baboon Metaphysics and Curbside Consultation, but this year’s winner is Philip M Parker and “The 2009-2014 World Outlook for 60-Milligram Containers of Fromage Frais”.
Yesterday’s Guardian reported that the man who has described himself as "the most published author in the history of the planet", might just as easily have been nominated for his vast library of other books. If they had the necessary disposable income, who could resist the niche appeal of The 2007-2012 Outlook for Lemon-Flavoured Bottled Water in Japan, a snip at $495, or The 2007 Import and Export Market for Household Refrigerators in Czech Republic (just $112)?
Parker, achieves his prolific authorship thanks to his invention of a machine which writes books, creating them from internet and database searches. "It's an undoubtedly odd title," said Philip Stone, charts editor and awards administrator at the Bookseller (which runs the Diagram prize). "I think it's slightly controversial as it was written by a computer, but given the number of celebrity memoirs out there that are ghostwritten, I don't think it's too strange."
The book highlights, he said, "an area that perhaps we are all guilty of ignoring as we push our trolleys down supermarket aisles. What does the future hold for these items? Well, given that fromage frais normally comes in 60-gram containers, not 60-milligram, one would assume that the world outlook for 0.06-gram containers of fromage frais is pretty bleak. But I'm not willing to pay $795 to find out."
Fromage Frais... joins a selection of august winners including The Theory of Lengthwise Rolling, and The Book of Marmalade: Its Antecedents, Its History and Its Role in the World Today.