The singapore prize, the nation’s premier literary awards program that honors works in Singapore’s four languages, is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. This time around, organizers chose the theme “resonance,” a nod to how literature triggers emotions and memories. The program has 12 categories in both fiction and nonfiction, and this year’s awards ceremony will feature a new short film category.
The winner of this year’s award will be announced on November 9. The award is given for a book that reflects the mindsets and values that Singaporeans hold dear, including equality, diversity, religious harmony, meritocracy and pragmatism. The judges will also choose an audience choice winner to be announced later.
This year’s panel of judges will include renowned authors and academics. The winners of the English and Chinese literary awards will be awarded a cash prize of $3,000 and an engraved trophy. The judges will also select a jury special mention winner for each language to be announced on November 10.
Hidayah Ibrahim, who spent five years researching and writing her winning work, says her book proves that anyone can write about Singapore history. “Leluhur is about my own experience of living in Gedung Kuning, or Kampong Gelam, a place that was a melting pot of races and communities,” she said. “I want to make the stories of these people as accessible as possible.”
NUS’s Kishore Mahbubani created the award to encourage a wider engagement with Singapore’s history. The prize is open to any publication that makes a lasting impact on our understanding of Singapore’s past, whether written or translated. The judges, who include a novelist and historians, will consider publications that address any period, field or aspect of Singapore’s history.
In the English category, the first-time winners include alllkunila (Azhagunila), innnpaa (Inbha), Jee Leong Koh, rma cureess (Rama Suresh), Suratman Markasan and Yeow Kai Chai. All of these writers won for the first time, and they are joined by the nonagenarian Wang Gungwu, who clinched the poetry category award.
At the ceremony, Prince William praised the “light of optimism” burning brightly in the Earthshot finalists, who are working on projects from a cleaner lithium-ion battery to ocean conservation. He wore a 10-year-old dark green blazer by Alexander McQueen to reflect the sustainability theme of the event. The other presenters were Hannah Waddingham, Sterling K. Brown, Cate Blanchett and actors Donnie Yen and Nomzamo Mbatha. The bands One Republic and Bastille performed for the event. The awards were filmed at Mediacorp Theatre in Singapore.