A book prize that celebrates Singaporean writers is the richest of its kind in the country. The $30,000 Singapore Prize, launched this year by the University of Social Sciences (SUSS), aims to promote writing that champions mindsets that have been “central in shaping Singapore”. In a statement, it listed values such as “equality, diversity, religious harmony, meritocracy, pragmatism, resilience and an emphasis on education, innovation and community” as such mindsets.
The first winner of the prize will be announced at a ceremony on Nov 7. It will be awarded by the Earthshot Prize Foundation, founded by Britain’s Prince William. The 2023 prize will include a cash grant of PS1 million ($1.67m) and other “incentives” to help winners scale up their environmental solutions. Five finalists will be awarded the top prize, while the remaining nine will receive PS200,000 each.
In addition to the main award, judges will choose one jury special mention and an audience choice winner from all of the nominated films. The winning film will also be screened at the Singapore International Film Festival, which runs from Nov 9 to 23.
The prize is supported by the National Research Council and the National Environment Agency, along with private sector partners. This year, the prize will also feature a new short film category, which is aimed at encouraging young people to share their creative stories with the world.
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The NUS History Prize was launched in 2014 to spur interest in and understanding of Singapore’s history. Its inaugural award went to archaeologist John Miksic for his work Singapore And The Silk Road Of The Sea, 1300-1800. Its founder, NUS Asia Research Institute distinguished fellow Kishore Mahbubani, recently wrote in The Straits Times that nations are ‘imagined communities’, and a shared imagination is a key glue holding societies together.
NUS has published the shortlist for this year’s prize, which includes Seven Hundred Years: A History Of Singapore (2019) by Kwa Chong Guan, Tan Tai Yong and Peter Borschberg; State Of Emergency (2017) by Jeremy Tiang; Leluhur: Kampong Glam’s Heritage Mansion (2019) by Hidayah Amin; Sembawang (2020) by Kamaladevi Aravindan; and Imperial Creatures (2019) by Timothy P. Barnard.
The competition is open to books written in English by authors of any nationality, and may cover any time period, theme or field of Singapore’s history. Other creative works with clear historical themes can also be submitted. The deadline for submissions is 31 May 2024. For more information, visit the NUS History Prize website.