Singapore Prize 2021 Winners Announced

The inaugural Singapore Prize, a book award administered by the National University of Singapore’s (NUS) History Department, was awarded to archaeologist Professor John Miksic for his book Singapore And The Silk Road Of The Sea, 1300 – 1800. Other titles on the 2021 shortlist were Seven Hundred Years of Singapore History (2017) by Kwa Chong Guan, Tan Tai Yong, Peter Borschberg and Derek Heng; Sembawang (2021) by Kamaladevi Aravindan; State of Emergency (2017) by Jeremy Tiang; Home Is Where We Are (2020) by Wang Gungwu and Margaret Wang; and Imperial Creatures (2019).

The prize is designed to encourage authors to broaden the definition of history to include different perspectives, themes and periods in Singapore’s past. This is reflected in the selection of 2021’s theme, ‘resonance’, which seeks to celebrate the ways in which literature can invoke memories and emotions.

A book’s ability to connect with its readers is another important aspect of the Singapore Prize. This was highlighted in this year’s consumer voting for the “readers’ favorite” category, which saw a rise in the number of voters, compared to the 2020 cohort. The four winning books – Ali bin Salim, Daryl Qilin Yam, Pan Zheng Lei and rma cureess – were all written by non-professional authors, the first time in the prize’s 30-year history that this has happened.

This is in line with the prize’s mission to reach out beyond the academy and into the broader community. Among the many initiatives undertaken by the prize, this includes its participation in the World Cities Summit in June, which will be the first time the event has been held in Asia.

Prince William arrived in Singapore this week, the first time he has visited the country in more than a decade, to host this year’s Earthshot ceremony at Changi Airport. Speaking at the event, Gunnlaugur Erlendsson, founder and chief executive officer of UK-based ENSO, which creates tyres designed for electric vehicles to reduce tyre pollution, praised the royal for his commitment to “repairing the planet”. The company was also one of the winners of this year’s Singapore Prize.