Booker Prize loses title sponsorship from UK hedge fund
London: The Booker Prize is on the lookout for a new sponsor after it lost its title sponsor, hedge fund Man Group, after an 18-year partnership.
One of the world's most famous literary awards for fiction writing in English, won by Indian authors such as Salman Rushdie, Arundhati Roy and Aravind Adiga in the past, will lose out on the annual 1.6-million pounds backing of the UK-based financial major after this year's award.
The Booker Prize Foundation said it is in discussion with a new sponsor and is "confident that the new funding will be in place for 2020.
"We would like to put on record the Foundation's appreciation of Man Group's sponsorship," said Helena Kennedy, chair of the Booker Prize Foundation. "However, all good things must come to an end and we look forward to taking the prizes into the next phase with our new supporter," she said.
In recent years, the Man Group's link with the 50,000 pounds award has been seen as slightly uneasy, with novelist Sebastian Faulks last year calling the firm "the enemy".
He said they were "not the sort of people who should be sponsoring literary prizes, they're the kind of people literary prizes ought to be criticising".
Man Group's chief executive, Luke Ellis, had countered the criticism at the time, saying: "His comments... come at a time when the arts are experiencing an unprecedented withdrawal of public funding.
"Literature and the arts need their champions to step in where public money has been pulled out." Originally, entries for the prize were restricted to Commonwealth authors but in 2014 the award was opened to other writers, and since then two out of five winners have been American.
This change has also faced criticism, with former winner Peter Carey warning the prize would lose its "cultural flavour".
The Man Group's statement announcing its dissociation with the Booker Prize made no mention of any criticism and said it would spend the sponsorship money on another project, to "promote and improve diversity and inclusion at the firm and across the financial services and technology industries more broadly".
The most recent winner of the Booker Prize was Northern Irish author Anna Burns, who won the prize for her novel 'Milkman' last year.