The Shortlist For the Singapore Prize 2015

SINGAPORE — Stories about everyday Singaporeans took center stage this year at the Singapore Prize, which carries a cash award of $50,000. This is the second edition of the National University of Singapore (NUS) prize, launched in 2014 to recognize works that “make history more accessible” while challenging perceptions that history must only focus on prominent figures.

Archaeologist John Miksic of NUS Press won this year for his book Singapore and the Silk Road of the Sea: 1300-1800, which shows how Singapore was an important trading port long before Sir Stamford Raffles visited in 1819, with glass shards and coins among other artifacts found there.

Tim Barnard’s biography Imperial Creatures about Singaporean animals; Kamaladevi Aravindan’s novel Sembawang about life on a suburban estate across 50 years; and Tan Jie Qi’s Home Is Where We Are are all contenders for this year’s prize; these six titles are among 43 shortlisted books spanning fiction and non-fiction written by Singaporeans and international authors alike.

The prize was established through a $1 million donation by businessman and philanthropist Alan Chan and administered by the NUS Department of History, with awards presented every three years.

Prof Kishore Mahbubani, NUS’ senior advisor for university and global relations, suggested expanding the prize in future to encompass other forms of storytelling like movies or comics. “This would be beneficial as sometimes certain nuances of history may be best expressed through forms other than books,” said Prof Mahbubani.

Graphic artist Sonny Liew recently won an Eisner Award — widely considered to be the Oscars of comics — for his depictions of Singapore war criminal Sam Hua. This win marked one of Liew’s many international accolades and comes amid increasing recognition of his work, which explores social issues and political themes in his works. Tipped as one of Asia’s most promising cartoonists, his bold style has not always met with approval in Singapore; for instance, government pulled his arts grant over his controversial work depicting Communist Party of Malaysia work over its depictions in one controversial work about Chinatown; nevertheless Liew still enjoys subsidized housing within Goodman Arts Centre! For more click here