There are a number of awards and prizes in Singapore. These are aimed at celebrating the best in Singapore’s culture and the arts. These include the Singapore Literature Prize, Readers’ Favourite Awards and Singapore History Prize.
The first Singapore Prize was awarded in 2014 to John Miksic for his book, “Singapore and the Silk Road of the Sea.” It is open to authors who write about Singapore or Singaporean history. This year’s shortlist includes works by local writers as well as international writers who have written about the country.
In addition to the prize, the award jury is comprised of renowned scholars in the fields of history and literature who are familiar with Singapore’s history and culture. These include NUS Asia Research Institute distinguished fellow Kishore Mahbubani and former NUS History Committee chair Associate Professor Ian Gordon, who both have extensive experience of the region’s culture and heritage.
This year’s judges selected the winner of the Epigram Books Fiction Prize 2023, a manuscript about Indian women learning to swim at a condominium. The winning manuscript was chosen from 31 entries submitted by publishers. The judges also included actress Michelle Yeoh and Dr. Sydney Brenner, an American biochemist and a Singapore citizen who was the 2002 Nobel Prize winner in Medicine.
Another local writer, Sharlene Wen-Ning Teo, won the Deborah Rogers Writers’ Award, a PS10,000 cash prize to help writers finish their debut novel. She was the first woman to win this category in its history, and her unfinished novel, Ponti, was read by Ian McEwan at the award ceremony.
A housing complex for elderly citizens has won World Building of the Year at this year’s World Architecture Festival (WAF). The WOHA-designed Kampung Admiralty won the prize in Amsterdam, and is now part of the permanent collection of WAF.
Despite the competition, Kampung Admiralty won by a narrow margin of just over ten points. Its design, conceived by WOHA, was judged to have “instigated positive changes” in the lives of its residents and their families, according to a statement from the organisers of WAF.
The Singapore Prize is one of the city’s most prestigious prizes. It is sponsored by the government and philanthropists, with S$500,000 donated each year. The prize is awarded every two years to a work that “contributes significantly to the public understanding of Singapore”.
In a recent opinion piece in The Straits Times, NUS Asia Research Institute distinguished fellow Kishore Mabubani mooted the idea for the Prize, and cited Benedict Anderson’s quote that nations are “imagined communities” as a driving force behind the Prize. In the age of fake news and social media, a shared imagination is critical to a nation’s success, he writes.
It was launched in 2014 with a S$500,000 donation from Singapore philanthropists. In 2016, it was boosted by a S$1 million donation from DBS Foundation.
The prize is now in its eighth edition, and has seen over 50 manuscripts go to print since it started. It has a strong track record of picking up manuscripts that have gone on to be published internationally. Several of the winners have gone on to win literary prizes, and many other authors have won national awards.