Man Martin’s new novel Paradise Dogs was published this month by Thomas Dunne books. I happened to notice that he’d been designated an “Okra Pick” by the Southern Independent Booksellers Association. Okra Pick! I’m a sucker for a good title, and I liked it immediately. But it got me thinking about the titles, awards, nominations and other modifiers writers sometimes drag around at the bottom of their business cards. So I asked Man to tell me his deepest thoughts about them.
How Being an Okra Pick Changed My Life Forever and Elevated Me to My Present Pinnacle of Wealth and Fame
By Man Martin
In case you don’t know – and if you don’t know, what rock have you been living under? – “Okra Picks” are noteworthy titles selected each season by the Southern Independent Booksellers Association (SIBA). My new novel , Paradise Dogs, joins work by Robert Olen Butler and Tayari Jones as one of this summer’s Okra Picks.
It’s the sort of thing you have to be very careful pronouncing when you tell people, or they get unduly excited. “No, oh-kra, oh-kra. It’s a ‘k’ not a ‘p.’”
So now that I’m an Okra Pick, am I inundated with appearance requests? Are rainforests sacrificed to supply paper for all the additional print runs? Am I harassed daily by Spielberg and Coppola trying to outbid each other for the movie rights? (“Dang it, Francis, you and Steven work it out between yourselves, then give me a call!”)
Well, is a bear Catholic? Does the Pope shit in the woods?
And yet I’m delighted to be an Okra Pick, and tell everyone – pronouncing the word as carefully as possible – that I am. My mission is to let as many people as possible know about my work, and any recognition I get is appreciated. If you’re pulling yourself up by your bootstraps, my advice is don’t leave any bootstrap un-pulled. At the end of the day, I’m extremely grateful to SIBA – I’m all about Independent Bookstores – and their validation means a lot to me.
But I’m still covetous of more recognition. At the moment I’m nominating Paradise Dogs for an award sponsored by a Dalton, Georgia poultry farmer. Each year he selects one book and pays an unannounced visit to the winner, awarding him a young Rhode Island Red. He calls it the Pullet Surprise.Wish me luck.