Man Asian Literary Prize

Funding withdrawn for Man Asian Literary Prize

Organisers of literary award refuse to be pessimistic after backer withdraw's funding

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 18 October, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 18 October, 2012, 7:57am

Asia's top literary award received a huge blow after it was announced that its title sponsor will withdraw its funding this year.

The Man Asian Literary Prize, awarded by a Hong Kong-based committee to an Asian writer, has lost the support of the Man Group and is now searching for a new sponsor. The Man Group's sponsorship not only included the prize money, but also all the organisational costs, including administration and publicity. An exact figure was not given, but organisers described it as a "high value and visibility" sponsorship.

Founded in 1783, the Man Group is the world's largest publicly traded hedge-fund manager, and also sponsors the Man Booker Prize, which was awarded in London on Tuesday to British author Hilary Mantel. The Man Group's link to literature has affected the prestige of the Asian award, but David Parker, executive director of the Asian Prize, said the show would go on.

"We refuse to be pessimistic. This prize is too important to fail," Parker said. "Either we find a new title sponsor or we put together a variety of sponsorship packages. It's vital for literature in Asia that we survive."

Parker believes the Prize will attract a number of influential sponsors looking to move into the Asia region. The likes of international publishing houses such as Pan Macmillan and Hachette have also recently opened offices in Hong Kong.

The Man Group said it had decided to concentrate its arts sponsorship on the Man Booker Prize, which it has supported since 2002.

"We are committed to supporting the organisers in finding a new sponsor to ensure the continued development of this leading literary prize," Man Group chief executive Peter Clarke said.

Founded in 2007, the Man Asian Literary Prize is an annual award given to the best novel by an Asian writer, either written in or translated into English, and published in the previous calendar year. The winning author is awarded US$30,000 and the translator (if any) US$5,000.

The latest recipient was South Korean author Shin Kyung-sook, who in March became the first woman to win the award, for her novel Please Look After Mum.