During a prestigious ceremony at the National Museum of Singapore, a new $30,000 book prize was announced on Thursday (Aug 27). The inaugural Dr Alan HJ Chan Spirit of Singapore Book Prize was backed by the University of Singapore and aims to reward books that champion mindsets important to the nation’s development. In a statement, the school said the values it hopes to promote include “equality, diversity, religious harmony, meritocracy and pragmatism.”
The inaugural winner of the non-fiction category was Khir Johari for his monumental tome The Food Of The Singapore Malays. The prize’s judges called it a “must-have” for anyone interested in the culinary and cultural history of the country.
In the fiction category, a tie was declared between two titles by Epigram Books: Straits Times journalist Akshita Nanda’s debut novel Nimita’s Place about two women named Nimita navigating expectations in India and Singapore; and speculative short story collection Lion City by Ng Yi-Sheng. The judges were “gobsmacked” by both works, according to Ng.
Marylyn Tan became the first woman in the Singapore Literature Prize’s 28-year history to win for English poetry, with her arcane and unapologetic debut collection Gaze Back. The judges praised the work’s “clarion call for gender and linguistic reclamation, searing in its sassy confidence and universal appetite.”
Each of the 12 winners receives a cash prize of $3000, a hand-crafted trophy and a 12-month gift code to audiobook platform StoryTel. Four authors won the Readers’ Favourite awards – Ali bin Salim, Daryl Qilin Yam, Pan Zheng Lei (Pan Cheng Lui) and rmaa cureess (Rama Suresh) each received $1,000. In total, more than 4,000 votes were cast in this year’s consumer choice awards, roughly twice the number of voters in last year’s competition.
The Design of the Year award, voted by a panel consisting of design luminaries and experts from government agencies and the private sector, went to SingPost’s reimagined e-commerce delivery system that enables customers to track their packages with an app and use their phones as a wallet. The judges said the new system is more efficient than the traditional one and addresses the need for a simpler, more user-friendly interface.
The 2022 NUS Singapore History Prize, awarded by the Department of History at NUS, was won by Hidayah Amin for her book Leluhur: Singapore’s Kampong Gelam. The judges described the book as a “cultural statement”, calling it an essential read for any Singaporean, given the current climate of anxiety and uncertainty.
The biennial Singapore International Literary Festival will be held this year from Nov 6 to 9. This will see the return of a popular short film programme, with the addition of a literary essay contest. More than 30 writers from across the world will be invited to pitch their ideas. There will also be readings and performances by world-renowned artists and musicians, with the lineup including Ed Sheeran, Billie Eilish and Shawn Mendes. You can find out more about the event here.