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Silicon Valley billionaire, philanthropist and author Michael Moritz and his wife Harriet Heyman’s charitable foundation has been announced as the new sponsor of the Booker prize, a month after the Man Group revealed it was ending its 18-year sponsorship of the prestigious award for literary fiction. Moritz and Heyman’s foundation, Crankstart, has committed to an initial five-year exclusive funding term for the Booker, with an option to renew for a further five years. It will not give its name to the award, which will revert to its old name of the Booker prize from 1 June, when the Man Group’s sponsorship ends. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, but the Booker Prize Foundation said there were no plans to change the £50,000 winner’s purse, or its recent expansion to include any English-language novel published in the UK. The prize for literature in translation will be known as the International Booker prize from June and will continue to award £25,000 each to the winning author and their translator. "The Booker prizes are ways of spreading the word about the insights, discoveries, pleasures and joy that spring from great fiction,” said Moritz, who was born in Wales, studied at Oxford and now lives in San Francisco. “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,” he added.

Asked whether it was appropriate for the British literary institution to be sponsored by a Silicon Valley billionaire, the Booker Prize Foundation said it was “confident that, in Crankstart, it has found a sympathetic and reputable philanthropic funder which shares BPF’s values and vision”. Helena Kennedy, chair of the Booker’s trustees described Moritz and Heyman as “real book lovers." Continuing, “Many commercial sponsors want opportunities to use the thing for purposes like bringing their guests to the dinner. They are not interested in any of that. Their interest is sustaining good literature.”

Profile for ElectricPress

Electric Press - literary insights magazine. May 2019 edition.