Chicken sexer author in award shortlist

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ESTONIAN socks, cooking with poo and penis panic - just some of the competitors a Hebden Bridge author will go head-to-head with for a well-known literary prize.

The Diagram Prize is a national competition for the oddest book title of the year.

This year’s shortlist includes Mr Andoh’s Pennine Diary: Memoirs of a Japanese Chicken Sexer in 1935 Hebden Bridge, written by B&B owner Steven Curry.

He will compete with:

l A Century of Sand Dredging in the Bristol Channel: Volume Two

l Cooking with Poo. Thai cookbook. (“Poo” is Thai for “crab” and is Diwong’s nickname.)

l Estonian Sock Patterns All Around the World by Aino Praakli

l The Great Singapore Penis Panic: And the Future of American Mass Hysteria by Scott D Mendelson

l A Taxonomy of Office Chairs by Jonathan Olivares

l The Mushroom in Christian Art by John A Rush

It has been running since 1978 and this year judges had to narrow the shortlist down from 64 titles.

The book came about after a Japanese visitor stayed with Steven at his Hebden Bridge guest house. It is a diary of Koichi Andoh who set off from his home in Japan to work as a chicken sexer in Hebden Bridge.

He spent five months in the town and nearly 70 years later his son Takayoshi visited the town to trace his father’s footsteps.

Takayoshi translated the whole diary and Stephen began to edit it.

The diary includes his work when he returned to Japan and was conscripted into the Japanese army. He died of shrapnel wounds in October 1944.

The book was published by Royd Press at The Book Case, Hebden Bridge. Publisher Kate Claughan said: “It’s a prize I’ve known about for a long time and it’s always amused me. I’m really chuffed. Of all the prizes that come up, it may not be the most prestigious but it’s a fun one.” The prize is a “fairly passable” bottle of claret, which goes to nominee - in this case Mark Whitley from the Dalesman.

Steven said he was surprised but honoured to be nominated.

“It’s a really interesting book and in this case, the content lives up to the title,” said Kate.

The winner will be announced on March 30. Vote at http://www.thebookseller.com.