The Singapore Prize and NUS Singapore History Prize Relaunched

The prize ceremony to honor Singapore’s best writers returned to Victoria Theatre after being cancelled during the COVID-19 pandemic. This year, 4,000 readers voted for their favorite books in the consumer choice category. Shortlisted works by authors such as alllkunila, Daryl Qilin Yam and rma cureess were vying to win the top spot.

The Singapore Prize, a biennial award program that honors the best published works by authors in Singapore’s four official languages of Chinese, English, Malay and Tamil, is now introducing new categories to broaden the scope of what qualifies as Singapore literature. The new categories will also help to recognize and promote increasingly diverse publishing practices in the country.

Among the new categories, there’s one for translation, which is open to fiction by any author who has written in any of Singapore’s languages. There’s also a new category for debut writers who are aged 35 or below, and one for comic-book authors or illustrators, which is open to those from any nationality who have worked in Singapore. The award organizers say these changes “will give more writers a chance to win, as well as recognise and promote the growing popularity of graphic novels in the region.”

A prize that honours cities with foresight and good governance also makes its return this year. The Lee Kuan Yew World City Prize, established in 2022, will be awarded to cities that demonstrate leadership and innovation in tackling a range of urban challenges. Winners will be rewarded for their achievements, which will bring social, economic and environmental benefits to their communities.

Another prize that was relaunched this year was the NUS Singapore History Prize. The new, book-length category was mooted by NUS Asia Research Institute Distinguished Fellow Kishore Mahbubani and will reward publications that have made a significant impact on the understanding of Singapore’s past. The winning work can address any time period or theme in Singapore’s history, and is open to both Singaporean and non-Singaporean authors who have written in English.

The NUS Prize will be judged by a panel of five judges, which includes Mahbubani; novelist Meira Chand; archaeologist John Miksic; historian Peter Coclanis; and economist Lam San Ling. The new prize is scheduled to be awarded in 2024, following a nomination period that will close on May 31 this year.