Founded by philanthropists, the Singapore Prize recognises organisations and individuals in the region that are advancing sustainable development and environmental protection. Winners are honoured with a monetary prize, as well as an awards ceremony and performances by globally-acclaimed artists. The prize also aims to propel winners to further their innovative ideas and projects, as well as implement them at a wider scale.
The 2021 Singapore Prize shortlist features non-fiction works with a personal slant, such as Leluhur: Singapore’s Kampong Gelam by Hidayah Amin, which shines a light on the history of a place many now know only as a tourist attraction. The book is a synthesis of history and primary sources, with added input from the author’s personal experiences growing up in Gedung Kuning (Yellow Mansion), a heritage royal building at the heart of Kampong Glam.
A hefty cash prize, as well as an engraved trophy, is given to the winners of each category. Moreover, the judges have also selected two honorees in each of the categories – a jury special mention and an audience choice winner.
In addition, this year’s award included a new Readers’ Favorite category where four of the shortlisted works won this accolade by attracting the most consumer votes. More than 4,000 readers participated in this round of voting, more than double the previous year’s cohort. Among the four winning works, two were fiction and two were poetry. The winner of the Readers’ Favorite, Ali bin Salim for his work Alchemy of Stones, was chosen for “his richly textured story of migration and immigration in modern Singapore.” You can find a complete list of all the shortlisted works categorized by language, including their authors and titles, here.
The final decision of the Singapore Prize will be made by a panel chaired by NUS Asia Research Institute distinguished fellow Kishore Mahbubani. Mahbubani says that the award is based on the belief that nations are ‘imagined communities’ and shared imagination, particularly in history, is a critical glue holding societies together today. The jury will review 31 books submitted by publishers and is expected to be announced in October.
The Singapore Literature Prize is a biennial literary prize in Singapore, organised by the National Book Development Council of Singapore. It honours outstanding published works of fiction, non-fiction or poetry written by Singaporeans in any of the country’s official languages – Chinese, English or Malay. The prize is Singapore’s second highest literary award after the Epigram Books Fiction Prize. In 2014, a controversy emerged when Grace Chia, whose poetry collection Cordelia was shortlisted but did not win in the English Poetry section, gave a speech at the Singapore Writers Festival in absentia which accused the prize of sexism. She later posted the speech on Facebook, but subsequently removed it.