The National University of Singapore (NUS) has launched the singapore prize for history, a global competition that seeks to find the best books on the subject. Those eligible for the prize will be those that have been published in English in the last three years, have an aspect of Singaporean history as their central theme and are a book-length work.
The winner of this year’s inaugural Singapore History Prize will receive a $50,000 cash prize. The prize is the brainchild of NUS Asia Research Institute distinguished fellow Kishore Mahbubani, who said it aimed to encourage people to tell the story of their own country.
One of the finalists in this year’s prize is Seven Hundred Years: A History of Singapore (2019) by NUS historians Kwa Chong Guan, Tan Tai Yong, Peter Borschberg and Derek Heng. The book examines how the nation came to be.
In contrast, the novel Sembawang (2020) by NUS senior lecturer Kamaladevi Aravindan is set in a housing estate in 1960s Singapore and is about average citizens’ experiences of life in the country. The novel was written in Tamil and was translated into English by the author’s daughter, Anitha Devi Pillai.
This year’s shortlist also includes Imperial Creatures (2019) by Timothy P. Barnard, which focuses on the relationship between humans and animals in colonial Singapore. And Home Is Where We Are, which looks at a family’s lives in the late 1980s, has also been shortlisted.
Other finalists include the NUS-published The Singapore Project, by Prof Wang Dayuan, who was a founding member of the NUS history department, and the novel The Last Man in Asia, by Dr Daniella Lai. The first in the new series of Asian books by NUS Press, The Singapore Project takes a closer look at the early settlements here.
Besides the prize money, the winners will be flown to London for a ceremony. The winners will be announced in September.
There are a number of prizes and awards available to students in Singapore, with the most famous being the National Scholarships for outstanding achievements in academic or sports performances. Aside from these, there is the MAP scheme for medallists, which rewards athletes for SEA, Commonwealth, and Asian Games events.
The NUS History Prize, launched in 2014, is open to works that have an element of Singaporean history as their main focus and can be either a book-length work or a creative piece on different mediums. Those who submit to the prize will be reviewed by a nominating committee that comprises NUS faculty members and scholars.
Another award is the NUS Science Prize, which celebrates achievements in scientific research and encourages young Singaporeans to pursue a career in science. Having an interest in science is key to successful research and the ability to sustain a career in it.
As the world grows smaller and more connected, more and more people are able to participate in the process of making discoveries that will affect human welfare in the long run. However, many of these findings are never made public and therefore not widely embraced by the general public.