A mash-up graphic novel that takes a wry look at corporate life, and an introductory volume on comfort women, were among the winners at this year’s singapore prize. The winners were crowned on Wednesday at the 2023 Singapore Book Awards, which honours the best of the homegrown publishing industry. The breezy mash-up of prose and comics titled Work-Life Balance: Malevolent Managers And Folkloric Freelancers by Benjamin Chee and Wayne Ree, published by Difference Engine, won the prize for Best Literary Work.
A synthesis of history and primary source, Leluhur: Singapore Kampong Gelam is an important book that contributes to our understanding of the past. According to the citation, it is an “elegantly crafted and well-researched work that demonstrates a deep engagement with the history of Singapore”. The book was the first in the program’s history to be shortlisted for more than one category.
The NUS Singapore History Prize is a triennial award that recognises publications that make a profound impact on our understanding of Singapore’s history. It was established in 2014 and is administered by the Department of History at NUS. The prize is open to works in English that deal with any aspect of Singapore’s history, and are either authored or translated into English.
In addition to a cash prize, the winner receives an engraved trophy. This year, the competition featured nine categories, including an audience choice award and a film category, and saw five writers shortlisted for two or more categories. Clara Chow became the first writer in the program’s history to be shortlisted in three categories and in two languages.
This year’s awards were marked by a significant increase in the number of submissions across all categories. In total, 139 books were submitted by 27 publishers across the nine categories, compared to 107 books that were nominated for last year’s awards. This is the highest number of nominations that the Singapore Literature Prize has received since its inception in 1992.
The judges for this year’s awards were a mix of industry experts and public figures. They included National Library Board chief librarian Gene Tan; book editor and former Books Kinokuniya Asia-Pacific senior store and merchandising director Triena Ong; Pustaka Nasional publisher Syed Ali Ahmad Semait; Casco Publications business director Kathy Low; and Taylor & Francis senior publisher Katie Peace.
In a bid to widen the audience for the awards, this year’s ceremony was held at the National Museum of Singapore, and was dubbed “Nation’s Voices”. It also marked the debut of a new category, which saw the winning entries streamed live online.
The Earthshot Prize winners and finalists were celebrated at the awards ceremony for their solutions to global challenges such as consumption and circularity, ageing and caregiving, climate change and sustainability, and data science and analytics. The finalists and winners were also part of the inaugural Earthshot Week, which will see them convening in Singapore to accelerate their solutions and bring about tangible action to repair the planet.