The winners of this year’s Singapore prize have been announced. The award, which comes with a cash prize of S$3,000, also carries a hand-crafted trophy and a 12-month gift code to audiobook platform StoryTel. The winners in each of the 12 categories are chosen by a jury that includes renowned authors and literary figures. This year’s theme is “resonance”, with a focus on how literature can trigger emotions and memories.
The annual ceremony for the prize, which this year took place in a theatre at state-owned Media Corp, was co-hosted by actors Hannah Waddingham and Sterling K. Brown and featured performances by the bands One Republic and Bastille. Former New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, a trustee of the Earthshot charity that runs the competition, addressed attendees.
Among the winners was the nonfiction work by archaeologist Prof John Miksic, whose book, “Singapore and the Silk Road of the Sea, 1300-1800”, earned the prize in the history category. A four-member panel picked his book over the other five shortlisted books. It was a fundamental reinterpretation of Singapore’s history, he said, based on research that included literary records showing that some traders had mentioned the names of places like Temasek and Longyamen (or Dragon Teeth’s Gate), which some had speculated were references to Singapore.
A 71-year-old American, Prof Miksic has a reputation for meticulous and original scholarship. His book won over the other shortlisted works in a competition that included 29 submissions by local and international scholars. The prize was established in 2014 in support of programs to mark the nation’s 50th anniversary of independence, and is Singapore’s first prize devoted to its history.
Several of the other prizes focused on a broad range of issues that affect society, with some honoring projects in multiple sectors. One of the runner-ups in the design category, for example, was a home design project that sought to reduce the use of materials that are harmful to the environment. Another was a project that helped migrants integrate into the Singapore workforce by providing them with job placement services.
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