LONDON – Financier Chistopher Ondaatje announced he’s funding a new Commonwealth literary award open to all genres of books.
The Sri-Lankan born philanthropist – and brother of Canadian author Michael Ondaatje – has given a $450,000 endowment to the Royal Society of Literature for the annual $22,000 prize.
The Royal Society of Literature Ondaatje Prize will reward writing that “evokes the spirit of a place”.
Ondaatje said he was approached by the RSL to help start up the new literary award.
“I am not a great writer like my brother, but I’ve been trying to write books on [Sir Richard] Burton and now [Ernest] Hemingway and I have always tried to go beyond just being a travel writer,” Ondaatje told The Globe and Mail.
“So when they mentioned ‘sense of place,’ it appealed to me.”
The prize will be open to citizens of the Commonwealth and Ireland for works of fiction, non-fiction, biography, autobiography, history and travel.
Poetry, translations and childrens books are not included.
The first prize will be awarded in May, 2004.
Yesterday, The Connection devoted an hour to discussion of the new prize.