The Singapore Prize, formerly known as the Epigram Books Fiction Prize, is one of the most prestigious literary awards in Singapore. It is awarded biennially to writers of outstanding published works in Chinese, English or Malay. The prize is funded by the National Book Development Council of Singapore.
Britain’s Prince William joined Singaporeans at a ceremony for the 2022 Earthshot Prize, awarding five green innovators whose work aims to help solve global environmental problems by 2030. The winners include a Hong Kong engineer working on cleaner lithium-ion batteries for electric cars, and an Australian who tightens marine enforcement to end illegal fishing and support ocean conservation.
In 2024, the Department of History at NUS will launch an open international call for submissions to its Singapore History Prize. The aim is to widen the scope of works considered for the prize to include all kinds of creative works that deal with Singapore’s past, from both new and established authors.
NUS is looking to build on the success of the prize, which was launched in 2014 by an anonymous donor who provided an endowment fund to support it. The prize was conceived as a way to encourage more people to take an interest in Singapore’s unique and complex history, and to spark greater discussion about the country’s place in the world.
The NUS prize has already made a significant impact on the wider reading public in Singapore, as well as on the field of scholarship. For example, historian Prof Mahbubani authored an opinion column in the Straits Times calling on local philanthropists to donate money for a prize to reward the best book on Singapore’s history. A few months later, a new Singapore citizen offered S$500,000 to establish the prize, with the condition that he remain anonymous.
This year’s prize has seen an unprecedented number of entries in the three languages, with 43 finalists competing for 12 top prizes. The judging panel was a mix of seasoned Singaporeans and international experts. Several of the winners have also been shortlisted for the 2019 National Book Award.
Among the first-time winners this year are alllkunilaa (Azhagunila) and innnpaa (Inbha), both for the English category, as well as suratman markasan (Suratman Markasan) and rmaa cureess (Rama Suresh), both for the Tamil category. Wang Gungwu, who will celebrate his 92nd birthday in October, and Yeow Kai Chai, who won the English Poetry prize in 2012, are the oldest winners this year. The awards were presented at Victoria Theatre, marking the return of the Singapore Prize to a physical format after two years of restrictions and social distancing. The event was streamed live on Facebook and will be broadcast again next year. It was supported by Epigram Books.