The singapore prize is a national award for literary excellence that recognises the achievements of writers and works across a range of genres, including novels, short stories, poems and drama. It is one of a number of awards given by the Singapore Book Council to promote literary culture in Singapore.
The prize is open to any work published in English or Chinese in the last two years that relates to Singapore. The winning works may be fiction or non-fiction and should have an impact on the public’s understanding of Singapore.
In recent years, the prize has been awarded to a number of books that have helped to make a significant contribution to Singapore’s history and culture. Among these are the book, Singapore And The Silk Road Of The Sea, 1300-1800 by archaeologist John N. Miksic (1979), which won this year’s prize, and a book on the ancient artefacts of Singapore by Prof. Kishore Mahbubani, a distinguished fellow at the NUS Asia Research Institute and a former head of the department of history.
Another award winner is WOHA Architects for its Kampung Admiralty senior housing development, which won the Lee Kuan Yew World City Prize in July 2018. The development, which has been described as a “modern expression of Singapore’s heritage and spirit,” was designed by WOHA Architects and built over two 11-story blocks.
These buildings are divided into three strata — upper, middle and lower — and each is equipped with a range of amenities to foster inter-generational bonding and encourage active aging. They feature communal spaces and gardens and are linked by pedestrian walkways.
It is a reflection of the way in which Singapore’s history has been woven into its present day, and its vision for how its city should grow and change to be more liveable and sustainable as it grows older. It also highlights how Singaporeans have come to view themselves as citizens of a global city and are willing to participate in its growth.
In a recent column in the Straits Times, NUS Asia Research Institute distinguished fellow Kishore Mahbubani mooted the idea of establishing a new national prize for historical writing. He argued that a shared imagination, especially in history, is crucial to the strength of nations today. The new prize will be awarded annually and has a prize pool of S$20,000.
The winner will be announced in October by a panel of judges, which will include Mr. Mahbubani, as well as historians and other academics who are familiar with Singapore’s rich history and culture.
Several scholars have contributed to the award’s nominations, including Associate Professor Ian Gordon, who was chair of the NUS History Committee and has been an expert on Singapore for many years. He has published numerous articles on the country’s history and culture, including on the Singapore Museum of Art.
He has also been involved in the Singapore History Prize and its committee since 1973, including as a member of its selection and award panels. He has been a regular speaker at NUS conferences and has been a key figure in the establishment of the NUS Southeast Asia Program.