The NUS Singapore Prize for History and Literature

The inaugural NUS Singapore History Prize, administered by the university’s department of history, has been given out. Archaeologist John Miksic won for his book Singapore and the Silk Road of the Sea: 1300-1800. This prize originated from an opinion piece written by NUS professor Kishore Mahbubani which called on philanthropists to contribute money toward an award dedicated to Singapore history literature. A few months later an anonymous donor responded with a donation of S$500,000 which has since been placed into an endowment fund from which interest will be used annually awarding this prize each year.

This prize has become a favorite with historians and readers alike, drawing recognition from both worlds. The shortlist includes many well-known local fiction authors from those who wrote bestsellers that brought Singapore fame, to those writing about its people and their stories. Awards are given both in English and Malay creative nonfiction categories as well as two for poetry writing.

In the English creative nonfiction category, authors who wrote harrowing memoirs about surviving terrorist attacks in New York and Operation Cold Case feature prominently among six nominees – with strong representation by women authors in both cases. Biographer Jeremy Tiang’s biography of former Singapore Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew was the runner-up; among the remaining five works were novels written by Jee Leong Koh, Daryl Lim Wei Jie, Yeow Kai Chai as well as nonfiction works from Mok Zining and Wang Gungwu among them.

Anitha Pillai won the NUS Singapore Literature Prize 2022 with her novel Sembawang published by Marshall Cavendish that explores social movements and historical events through a layperson’s perspective. Sembawang depicts one family’s experience through leftist political movements and mass detentions that plagued Singapore during its turbulent 1960s period.

Thursday marked another glittering ceremony held by state-owned media company Mediacorp to name winners in various categories. Hosted by Emmy Award winning actors Hannah Waddingham and Sterling K. Brown, it also featured performances by One Republic and Bastille bands along with American singer Bebe Rexha – including Lana Condor Robert Irwin Nomzamo Mbatha as actors present.

At this event, other awards were also handed out, such as the Lee Kuan Yew Water Prize for research that revolutionised how COVID-19 outbreaks are detected. Prof Gertjan Medema received this prize for his research into wastewater-based epidemiology – showing how trace amounts of virus could be tracked through testing wastewater supplies – which helped speed response times during 2020’s COVID pandemic and strengthen links between water and health sectors. Publishing Perspectives published its 131st awards-related report since our launch on January 3. For our full coverage click here or submit your submission here; our guidelines and submission form await you here


June 2024

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