Since 2002, the Man Group has partnered with and donated £25 million to the Booker Prize and its international edition. However, it has now been announced that this year’s prize will be the final one sponsored by Man. As reported by Sky, the Booker Prize Foundation has stated its trustees are “in discussion with a new sponsor and are confident that the new funding will be in place for 2020”. The foundation’s chairwoman, Helena Kennedy described Man as an “excellent and very generous sponsor.”
The news follows criticism from author who have stated that Man should not sponsor a literary prize. Best-selling author Sebastian Faulks previously described Man Group as “the enemy” and called the award “irritation.” In a podcast last year, he said Man were “not the sort of people who should be sponsoring literary prizes – they’re the kind of people literary prizes ought to be criticising. I wouldn’t feel happy about accepting money from them.”
Luke Ellis, Man’s chief executive defended the sponsorship at the time, saying: “The arts are experiencing an unprecedented withdrawal of public funding.” He added: “Literature and the arts need their champions to step in where public money has been pulled out.”
Further controversy was sparked when the entry rules changed for the prize. When the Booker prize began in 1969, only writers from Commonwealth countries could enter. In 2014, other English speaking countries were allowed to enter, including the United States. Author Peter Carey, who has win the award twice criticised the change and said he fears the prize would lose its “particular cultural flavour.”
Those who win the Booker Prize are awarded £50,000 and usually see a large spike in book sales. Previous winners include Salman Rushdie, Hilary Mantel, and Julian Barnes.
Speaking on Man’s decision to end the partnership, Ms Kennedy said: “With their support we have seen the prizes and our charitable activities flourish so that today the prizes can claim to be the most significant literary awards in the world. 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.”
Mr Ellis said Man would “focus its resources” on a new campaign to expand the firm’s global charitable initiatives. We are truly honoured to have been a part of something so special and unique.”
The Bookseller reports that in all, forty-eight bookshops are competing, from nine regions of the UK and are all hoping to win in their local area before going forward to compete for the overall, nationwide prize.
Here are the shortlisted books for each region. We have some of the bookshops listed in our bookshop section so the ones featured are linked:
Behrouz Boochani is a failed asylum seeker from Iran who has been held on Manus Island in Papua New Guinea for almost six years. The place doesn’t get much coverage for an offshore detention centre that holds failed refugees indefinitely, and maybe it should but all that might be about to change as Boochani’s book is about his time on the island and his attempted journey to safety.
This year’s winners have been announced by Poets & Writers, and the well-deserving recipients of the 2019 Barnes & Noble Writers for Writers Award are:
Reginald Dwayne Betts – “for mentoring individuals involved in the criminal and juvenile justice systems and for his efforts to reform these systems.”
Reginald Dwayne Betts writes memoirs and poetry. His most recent collection of poetry, Bastards of the Reagan Era, won the 2016 PEN New England Award in Poetry. While his memoir, A Question of Freedom: A Memoir of Learning, Survival and Coming of Age in Prison, is just the beginning of his campaigning to reform the criminal justice system in the UK. He has also made numerous visits to prisons and juvenile detention centres, where he shares his poetry and talks about the power of reading, literacy and mentoring those in incarceration.