A Singapore prize is a literary award that recognizes the best works in its four languages. Its history is incredibly rich, with many renowned authors having won its accolades. It is an excellent way to boost the visibility of your book and to get more attention from the general public. Moreover, winning the prize can be an excellent opportunity for you to meet other people who share your interests.
The Singapore Prize is a biennial award that recognizes writers across its English, Chinese, Malay and Tamil categories. There are 12 winners per category and the winners are selected by a panel of judges that includes prominent literary figures. The winners are celebrated at an event that attracts a wide audience from around the world. The event has featured performances by globally-renowned artists and musicians.
In addition, the prize has a Readers’ Favorite exercise where readers can vote for their favorite shortlisted title in each of the four languages. This year, a total of 49 titles were shortlisted. That is 32 fewer than the number of submissions in 2020 and reflects the impact of the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic on publishing in Singapore.
This year’s awards will be held at the Victoria Theatre and are open to all Singaporeans. The winner of the English and Chinese categories will receive SGD 10,000 (US$8,400). The other winners in each language will receive SGD 8,000. This is an improvement over the previous years, when only SGD 5,500 was awarded.
Besides the main prizes, there are also several secondary awards that will be presented to the shortlisted authors. The most prestigious of these is the Dr Alan HJ Chan Spirit of Singapore Book Prize, which was launched in April. It was established with a $1 million donation from the Confucian scholar and is given to books that champion mindsets that are important to the nation. These include equality, diversity, religious harmony, meritocracy, pragmatism and an emphasis on education and innovation. Imperial Creatures by Timothy P. Barnard is one of the finalists for this year’s prize.
Other notable writers that have won the prize include Catherine Lim, who was a prolific writer of short stories with two collections published as texts for GCE ‘O’ Levels. Her themes of Asian male chauvinistic gender-dominance mark her as a distant cousin to Asian-American writers like Amy Tan. Colin Cheong is another popular contemporary writer, releasing three novels and a collection of short stories so far. Daren Shiau’s Heartland (1999) traces an eighteen-year-old’s rites of passage from junior college to enlistment and beyond. His work has been a popular choice for school children to read. Similarly, Rex Shelley’s The Shrimp People (1991) and subsequent books on the Eurasian community in Singapore have also been widely read by students of colonial history.