Singapore Prize and Earthshot Prize Winners Announced

singapore prize

The stories of average Singaporeans take centre stage in the shortlist for this year’s National University of Singapore (NUS) History Prize, with non-fiction works with a personal slant and historical fiction that forgoes the traditional view of history as a record of big movers and shakers. A mix of academic work and novels, including a book on the 1950s that explores how the suburb of Sembawang became what it is today, made the six-strong list, with academic historian Tiang Yuan’s Seven Hundred Years: A History Of Singapore (2019, available here) winning top honours.

Among the fiction titles, a novel by Kamaladevi Aravindan that explores life in the estate of the same name across five decades clinched the Reader’s Favourite award. The book is also a finalist for the NUS English Language and Literature award. In addition to NUS’ main book prizes, there are also smaller literary awards, such as the new Translation category that was introduced this year.

The NUS Prize for Chinese Writing, previously called the Golden Point Literary Award, has reopened for submissions after suspending it last year in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is awarded to outstanding published works of Chinese, Malay or English literature and is the second highest literary prize in Singapore after the Epigram Books Fiction Prize. The prize also offers a $3,000 cash prize and an engraved trophy.

Among NUS’ other book prizes, the inaugural Singapore Prize for History was awarded this week. The biennial prize is the first of its kind, and was launched in 2014 to mark the SG50 celebrations. It was picked by a four-member jury, headed by Wang Gungwu, chairman of the NUS East Asian Institute. The winner was John Miksic, a senior lecturer at NUS’ Department of History, for his book Singapore and the Silk Road of Empires (2019, available here).

The Earthshot Prize, which Britain’s Prince William’s Royal Foundation charity launched in 2020, has also announced its fifth winners. He said the solutions presented by all 15 finalists – ranging from an Indian maker of solar-powered dryers to a soil carbon marketplace to groups that help make electric car batteries cleaner and restore Andean forests – prove “hope does remain” as the effects of climate change worsen.

Celebrities joined Britain’s Prince William on the green carpet for the ceremony, with Oscar-winner Cate Blanchett, actors Donnie Yen and Nomzano Mbatha, Australian wildlife conservationist Robert Irwin and other guests gracing the stage at Singapore’s state-owned Media Corp theatre. William, who wore a 10-year-old dark green suit from Alexander McQueen, said he hoped the prize would be a “catalyst” to help scale up the solutions.

The prize is the latest initiative by Singapore to promote reading and celebrate its multiculturalism, and comes amid a global push to reduce carbon emissions. The city-state has already adopted a wide range of measures to achieve this, and has set targets to be reached by 2040. It is also looking to boost its e-book offerings and create a more streamlined tax structure for authors.