The Singapore Prize and Other Singapore Prizes

The Singapore Prize (SLP) is a biennial literary award in Singapore given to writers for outstanding published works in Chinese, English or Malay. It is presented by the National Book Development Council of Singapore and the Singapore government. Winners receive both a cash prize and an engraved trophy. The SLP is Singapore’s second highest literary prize, following the Epigram Books Fiction Prize.

The first winner of the SLP was a novel, Liew Tiang’s The Crawlspace, in 2014. The novel explores Singapore’s past through the recollection of personal experiences. It recounts events that have shaped the tightly controlled city-state, including strikes and riots in 1955, and the repression of left-wing politicians and trade unionists in 1987. It also traces the rise of Marxism in Singapore during the 1980s.

This year’s SLP received the highest number of entries in its 25-year history, with 235 submissions from authors in the English and Chinese language. Fiction is the most popular genre of entry, with 57 entries from writers in this category. The shortlist of 10 authors was announced in late September, and the winner will be named at a ceremony on 23 November at the National Museum of Singapore.

In addition to the main SLP award, two honorary prizes will be awarded: the Readers’ Choice award and a young reader’s choice prize. Besides the main award, a special award ceremony will be held at a later date in recognition of the contributions of Singaporeans to the arts and culture sector, and in particular the work of the winners of the main SLP awards.

A new prize was launched this year, the NUS Singapore History Prize, which is awarded every three years for non-fiction works on Singapore’s history written by Singaporeans. The inaugural prize was won in 2018 by archaeologist Professor John Miksic for his book Singapore and the Silk Road of the Sea, 1300-1800. The prize is open to both Singaporeans and foreigners.

Another recent addition to the list of singapore prizes is the Lee Kuan Yew World City Prize, which is a biennial international prize that rewards cities for “demonstrating foresight and good governance in tackling urban challenges and incubating innovative solutions”. It is co-organised by URA and Keppel Corporation.

In 2021, the prize will be open to both non-fiction and fiction works with a historical theme. The winner will be selected by a panel of five judges, comprising historians and academics, as well as representatives from the heritage and education sectors. A separate prize for young readers will be announced later this year. The winners of both the main and youth prizes will each win SGD25,000. In addition, the finalists of both the main and youth prizes will each receive a certificate from the Singapore Tourism Board. Besides the winning prizes, a total of SGD25,000 in travel vouchers will be given away to other nominated authors and filmmakers. The winners will be able to use the vouchers to visit any destination in Singapore.