Day: May 22, 2024

A Book About Singapore’s History Wins the NUS Singapore Prize

A book about the history of Singapore has won this year’s NUS Singapore Prize, the city-state’s first book award dedicated to the study of its past. The book was selected by a jury led by NUS historian Kishore Mahbubani, who founded the prize in 2014 and envisioned it as a way to commemorate SG50.

The winner was a biography of Sam Hua, a dangerous gangster who was responsible for several killings, by Vincent Tong. The book beat 43 other submissions to win the prize administered by NUS Press in partnership with the university’s Department of History. The judges were impressed by the quality of the books, which “reflect a diversity of styles and themes”.

The prize also awarded merit prizes to two non-fiction works. One was a book about the origins of modern Malay cuisine by food historian Khir Johari. The other was a graphic novel about the life of Charlie Chan Hock Chye, by Sonny Liew, who has won prestigious Eisner awards (the Oscars of the comics world) for his work. Both are published by Marshall Cavendish.

NUS’s award was launched as part of SG50 celebrations, and the 2024 prize will be open to submissions until May next year. It is open to non-fiction books, either fiction or non-fiction, with a historical theme and written in English. The winners were announced at a ceremony in Mediacorp’s Theatre, with Prince William presenting the awards. He and host Hannah Waddingham, 49, coordinated in green as they walked the carpet, which was covered with a thick layer of leaves. The Prince wore a dark green velour suit and dickie bow, while Waddingham sported a black sparkly ball gown.

This year’s prizes have a distinctly social slant, with many of the shortlisted titles having a strong personal slant as well. This is reflected in the non-fiction category, with books such as Leluhur: Singapore’s Kampong Glam by Hidayah Amin, which illuminates her hometown through the lens of an old-school arcade where she spends about half an hour each week playing games for the chance to win trading cards and other small prizes.

The other non-fiction works in the shortlist were Seven Hundred Years of Singapore by Kwa Chong Guan, Tan Tai Yong, Peter Borschberg and Derek Heng; Sembawang by Kamaladevi Aravindan; State Of Emergency by Jeremy Tiang; and Home Is Where We Are by Kamaladevi Aravindan. The prize is worth $27,391, which includes the premium prize and a total of ten prizes, which will be distributed at Singapore Pools outlets across the country. The winning ticket was purchased online via the Singapore Pools app. The winning prize is based on the odds of winning, which have been calculated by multiplying the number of bets by the price per unit.