The flicker of false (and you might say falsely-targeted) hope in the UK trade that a new sponsor for the Booker Prize might let them remove Americans from contention has probably been extinguished — since the new sponsors live in California. (The Booker Foundation insists, “A sponsor or funder has no say over the rules.”) Sequoia Capital billionaire partner Michael Moritz and his wife Harriet Heyman, both writers and philanthropists, have agreed to fund the prizes for at least five years starting June 1, after the 2019 International Booker winner is announced, through Crankstart, their charitable foundation.
They will spare everyone calling them the Crankstart Booker Prizes (which we kind of like), and the awards will revert to the Booker name alone. (Truth be told we never used the Man Group’s name as part of our references to the awards anyway.)
Moritz says in the announcement, “Neither of us can imagine a day where we don’t spend time reading a book. The Booker Prizes are ways of spreading the word about the insights, discoveries, pleasures and joy that spring from great fiction. These days I’m a global traveller but, just like The Booker, I was born in Britain and before coming to America was reared on English literature. Harriet and I feel fortunate to be able to support prizes that together celebrate the best fiction in the world.”