The singapore prize is a biennial literary award in Singapore that celebrates authors whose works are rooted in the local culture. It is awarded across the genres of poetry, fiction and creative non-fiction in English, Chinese, Malay and Tamil.
This year, 49 works were shortlisted for the prize. The winners in each category are rewarded with $3,000 and a trophy. Former Straits Times journalist Clara Chow is one of the nominees who is contesting in three categories. Her works include the travelogue New Orleans in English; Not Great, But At Least Something in English fiction; and Lousy Love Poems in Chinese poetry.
She is also the first writer in the history of the prize to be shortlisted in two or more categories. Her writing has been widely acclaimed in various languages, and she was also the winner of the 2015 Singapore Literature Prize for her work “Cinda”.
The prize has a special focus on literature based on Singaporean history, culture, language or society, and its main objective is to encourage Singaporeans to tell their story. It was launched in 2014 with a donation from philanthropists, and has since been boosted by S$1 million from DBS Foundation.
Moreover, it aims to provide a platform for researchers to present their findings and a chance to publish their discoveries in a monograph. It is run by the NUS Asia Research Institute and is sponsored by a number of Singaporean companies.
Its jury includes NUS distinguished fellow Kishore Mahbubani, who is a professor of history at the university. In addition to the monetary prize, the winning authors will be invited to present their findings at a national conference in October and receive an opportunity to network with scholars from around the world.
The prize is open to writers from Singapore and other countries in Southeast Asia, excluding China and Hong Kong. The winners are selected from a pool of 192 submissions.
In total, 43 writers are shortlisted for the prize in four different languages. They are a mixture of established and up-and-coming talent.
Some of the shortlisted writers are well-known names and others have been published in overseas journals. A number of the writers have received other awards, including a PEN Award and a Pushcart Prize.
For the past six years, the prize has also been accompanied by a special lecture series. The current issue is titled “Defiant scholarship: Dismantling coloniality in contemporary African geographies” and is a collection of papers written by scholars from Africa, Europe and Asia.
The lecture will cover topics like the role of race and ethnicity in shaping a nation’s identity, how nationhood has been transformed by globalization and how nations are imagined by individuals and groups. It is hoped that the lecture will help readers to better understand Singapore’s history and culture as well as their own identities.
The Singapore Prize is one of the most prestigious prizes for a book in Singapore, and it is often regarded as an important milestone for a writing career. It is a unique prize that allows readers to discover a side of Singapore that is often hidden, and it enables authors to explore new ideas and perspectives.