Previously, the Singapore Prize was only available to residents of Singapore, but now it is open to everyone around the world. The organisers say they want to promote Singapore as a destination for creativity and innovation. This year’s ceremony will be held in November and will feature performances by a number of world-renowned musicians and artists. The winner will receive a cash prize of PS1 million (S$1.67 million).
Among the winners this year was Khir Johari’s The Food Of Singapore Malays, which won the Gourmand World Cookbook Award and was shortlisted for the Best Book of the Year at the 2022 Cannes Literary Festival. It was also a finalist for the 2023 Asian Literary Awards. It is a monumental tome that charts the changing face of Singapore’s Malay cuisine over the years. Another book that wowed judges was the historian John Miksic’s Singapore And The Silk Road Of The Sea, 1300-1800, which synthesises 25 years of archaeological research to reconstruct the 14th-century port.
For the first time, there was a book of poetry category. The judges were won over by the poetic language and imagery of Wang Yuan’s A Ballad Of Long Hair, which has been translated into Mandarin by Xiaodong Zhang. The judges were also impressed by the depth of emotions evoked in his work, which has a touch of magic and mythology.
This year, the judging was led by five academics from the National University of Singapore and three other experts in culture and heritage. The other members of the prize panel are history professors Khoo Gaik Cheng, Tan Tai Yong and Lavender Hill; art historian and writer Syed Ali Ahmad Semait; and museum curators and educators Profs Lam San Ling and James Lee.
The Singapore Book Awards 2023 was organised by the Singapore Publishers Association (SBPA) and endorsed by the National Library Board. A total of 139 books were submitted, with nine winning. The Readers’ Favorite award was won by rma cureess, Ali bin Salim, Daryl Qilin Yam and Pan Zheng Lei for their works of fiction and nonfiction. The four authors each received a cash prize of S$1,000 together with book-purchase vouchers worth S$50.
Makbul Mubarak’s autobiographical film, Autobiography Of A Singapore Girl won the Best Asian Film. It follows a win at the Venice Film Festival and further accolades from the QCity, NETPAC and Jogja-NETPAC film festivals. The film was commended for its “vivid character study and an urgent dissection of our national trauma”. The director won the Best Director prize, which comes with a production services package from Shooting Gallery Asia worth S$15,000. Several other winners were recognised at the short-film awards. These include Gabriela Serrano and Rein Maychaelson for their films, which won them the top prizes of SGD4,000 and a short film workshop at the industry-facing Southeast Asian Film Lab.