Almost half of the books in this year’s singapore prize shortlist won reader votes, with four titles earning “readers’ favorite” honors. The winning works cover a wide range of topics and genres, from history to fiction. In the nonfiction category, historian Hidayah Amin’s Leluhur: Singapore’s Kampong Gelam (2019) offers a personal take on a part of Singapore that many only know as a tourist attraction.
Amin, who was born in the Yellow Mansion of Kampong Gelam, notes that this area was a place where people came to live and make their own homes. She hopes the book will show readers that the past is part of the present and future, as well as a source of pride.
The NUS history prize was established in 2014 to spur interest in Singapore’s complex history and to make it more accessible to non-academic audiences. Its inaugural award was given to archaeologist John Miksic for his book Singapore And The Silk Road Of The Sea, 1300-1800. The winner receives a cash prize and a commissioned trophy.
A total of 92 works were nominated this year for the prize, the highest number to date, but only eight books won prizes in the final round. SUSS announced this year’s winners on April 18. They include 91-year-old authors Suratman Markesan and Wang Gungwu, both writing in creative nonfiction. Both are the oldest winners in the history prize’s three-year history. They are also the first Malay and Chinese writers to win the prize, marking an important milestone for the competition.
In addition to a public awards ceremony, the prize features an educational component that allows schools to participate in activities such as workshops and field trips. It also includes an author engagement program that brings together students and teachers with authors to discuss the themes of their books. SUSS hopes the prize will encourage young people to embrace the spirit of Singapore.
Other prizes in the Singapore prize are awarded for a variety of other categories, including music. For instance, the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music has given over USD $110,000 in prizes to violinists Dmytro Udovychenko, Anna Agafia Egholm and Angela Sin Ying Chan.
Prince William will bring the Earthshot Prize to Singapore this November for the third annual awards ceremony. The event will be held as part of “Earthshot Week,” which will see global leaders, businesses and investors travel to Singapore to explore opportunities with the prize winners and finalists. It’s the first time that the prize is going to Southeast Asia. Find out more here.