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Monday, 15 October, 2001, 11:18 GMT 12:18 UK
Booker in search of new sponsor
Ian McEwan and Peter Carey
Ian McEwan and Peter Carey: 2001 contenders
Frozen food retailer Iceland will announce on Wednesday that it intends to withdraw from sponsorship of the Booker prize.

The current sponsor will say that new sponsors should be found for the literary competition as it sees "no commercial link" between its supermarket business and the literary award.


We are now exploring options to protect the Booker Prize

Jonathan Taylor, Booker Prize management committee
Iceland inherited the prize only because of a merger with food group Booker in 2000.

The literary prize has been synonymous with Booker since it was established by the food company in 1968 after an approach from Tom Maschler, a publisher at Jonathan Cape.

The 300,000 cost of sponsoring the award, says Iceland, is giving it no commercial benefit.

But the retailer is said to be working with the Booker management committee to find new ways of supporting the award in the future.

One possibility is that book publishers would share the costs of running the prize.

'Integrity'

Other media businesses may also be interested in the award.

Jonathan Taylor, chairman of the Booker Prize management committee, said in a statement: "With the encouragement of Iceland, we are now exploring options to protect the Booker Prize - the UK's leading literary award - and ensure that its integrity is maintained.

"A further statement will be made once our plans are more advanced."

The Booker is intended to recognise the best novel of the year.

The prize, of 21,000, is awarded by a jury selected from leading literary critics, writers and academics.

The Booker prize almost invariably leads to a big increase in sales for the winning author.

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