The Singapore Prize, administered by the National University of Singapore’s Department of History and backed by an endowment from the Lee Kuan Yew Foundation, is open to non-fiction and fiction works written in English, or translated into English. This is intended to cast a wide net and attract a diverse range of books dealing with history from around the world. The book that is deemed the best will receive an award of $50,000 Singapore dollars. The shortlisted works will be publicly announced and featured on the Singapore Prize website.
This year, a total of 104 works were nominated for the prize, with four of them being named as “consumers’ favorite” choices in the consumer voting category. The winning authors-Ali bin Salim, Daryl Qilin Yam, Pan Zheng Lei (Pan Cheng Lui) and rma cureess-will each receive 1,000 Singapore dollars in cash and book-purchase vouchers worth 50 Singapore dollars. In addition, the runner-ups will also receive a cash prize of 250 Singapore dollars.
Last year, Professor John Miksic won the inaugural NUS Singapore History Prize for his book Singapore and the Silk Road of the Sea, 1300-1800. The book synthesises archaeological evidence to show that the city-state’s story began much earlier than previously thought.
Prof Miksic is a member of the NUS Singapore History Prize’s Jury Panel along with eminent historian and public intellectual Prof Kiat Tau Yin and Claire Chiang, Senior Vice President of Banyan Tree Holdings Limited. The panel is assisted by a Nominating Committee which comprises academics from the NUS Department of History, arts and literary figures, museum curators, as well as history teachers and curriculum developers.
Another work on the shortlist is Leluhur: Singapore’s Kampong Gelam, by Hidayah Amin. The author was born in the heritage Gedung Kuning (Yellow Mansion) in Kampong Glam and her book shines a light on the history of the neighbourhood, which many people now see only as a tourist attraction.
The final book on the shortlist is Ponti, a novel in progress by Sharlene Wen-Ning Teo. Teo is a Singaporean writer who has worked in London and currently lives in Edinburgh, where she is working on her first novel. Her writing has appeared in Esquire, Magma Poetry and Eunoia Review.
The winners of the prize will be presented at a special awards ceremony on 30 November, as part of a new initiative that sees Singapore Prize Winners and Finalists engage with local communities through a series of events. The programme is supported by a grant from the Singapore Ministry of Education and will feature a variety of activities for both children and adults. The event will be held in partnership with Earthshot Week, a global initiative led by Founder and CEO of the Breakthrough Energy Group Elon Musk to accelerate solutions for climate change. It will bring together leaders from business, government and academia to explore opportunities for collaboration in a bid to ‘repair the planet’.