There are dangers inherent in getting companies to sponsor literary awards, just as there are in state-sponsored literature promotion. This time it's a firm that makes book-binding machines, which sponsors the Candide Prize.
A brief look at the prize's history shows it's been a tad turbulent. It started off as a writers' residency but then the town of Minden withdrew its funding. Then a local organisation was funded to award a plain old prize of €7500 from donations. In 2007 they got government funding, according to a rather gappy Wikipedia article at least, and doubled the prize money. And then in 2008 it was turned into a Franco-German award with French ministry funding and went to two different writers, but only for two years until 2010, when only one person got it and they switched to the sponsor. Their website kind of gives up the ghost after that announcement.
So this year they chose one winner again, at least as far as I can establish, and that was Peter Handke. And the prize money was to come from the book-binding machine makers. But no! It's not good for their image to be associated with Austrian writer Handke, because he's made a number of rather dodgy comments about Yugoslavia. They're particularly concerned, says the chairman of the jury Gerd Voswinkel on Deutschlandradio, about losing customers in the USA. No, don't laugh. All book-binders in the USA are perfectly up-to-date on Austrian writers' political positions and would, of course, cancel their orders if they found out about the whole thing. So the sponsor's not paying.
Of course it's not the first time. The mayor of Düsseldorf refused to award Handke the Heinrich-Heine Prize back in 2006, for the same reasons. Since then his biographer Malte Herwig has revealed that Handke actually visited the former commander of the Bosnian Serb armed forces Karadžić in Bosnia in 1996, shortly before the latter disappeared and spent twelve years disguised as a mystic, was then arrested and transferred to The Hague, where he is currently on trial for war crimes including the Srebrenica massacre. The two of them swapped books and Handke asked about the whereabouts of a number of Bosnian Muslims missing since said massacre. Karadžić said he would enquire but seems to have had other things on his mind; Handke never heard back from him. Which doesn't make giving the man money any easier, I can imagine. That and the old "holding speech at Milošević's funeral" incident.
It's a tricky one and I don't have any answers either. But in this case the contract stipulated that the award jury has a free hand to choose the prizewinner, and so Handke gets to keep the certificate but won't bag any cash. Voswinkel says they're now looking for a wealthy patron to keep the award afloat in future.