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By The Book: 2020 Singapore Literature Prize Awards Ceremony goes virtual this August, with 52 shortlisted works

Screenshot 2020-07-22 at 4.34.32 PM

A total of 52 works have been shortlisted for the biennial Singapore Literature Prize (SLP), Singapore’s top literary award. For the first time in the history of the SLP, the awards ceremony will be held online via the Singapore Book Council’s Facebook and YouTube pages on 27th August 2020 at 8pm.

The 52 works are shortlisted across 12 categories, across the three genres of Poetry, Fiction and Creative Nonfiction and four languages of Chinese, English, Malay and Tamil. A total of 47 writers will vie for the top award in the categories, which comes with a cash prize of S$3,000 and a special plaque. More than half of the writers are shortlisted (30) for the first time, while five will contest in two different categories. This edition of SLP, which follows the theme #WhyWeWrite, also sees the introduction of a new category: SLP Readers’ Favourite. With this category, the public is invited to vote online for their favourite shortlisted book in Chinese, English, Malay and Tamil. The winning writers will each receive a cash prize of S$1,000, with their voters standing the chance to win book vouchers.

SLP 2020 received a total of 224 submissions across the various categories, a 30% increase from 2018 that had 172 submissions. The genres of poetry and creative nonfiction also saw the highest number to date since 2014 when the 12 categories were introduced, with 67 and 85 works respectively. The shortlisted works cover a wide range of topics, and represent different generations of writers.

In spite of being financially impacted by the pandemic, the Singapore Book Council decided to press on with SLP this year. William Phuan, Executive Director of SBC says, “Amid all the disruption, isolation and anxiety, we believe that books and literature are more vital than ever. It is important to recognise and celebrate the voices of our writers, as well as their contributions and achievements. Not only do their words and stories nourish us, they also challenge us to think critically, inspire us to take a flight of imagination and connect us through a thread of empathy.”

Nominated works include Edwin Thumboo’s A Gathering of Themes (English poetry), Marylyn Tan’s Gaze Back (English poetry), Shubigi Rao’s Pulp II: A Visual Bibliography of the Banished Book (creative non-fiction), Teo You Yenn’s This Is What Inequality Looks Like (creative non-fiction), Akshita Nanda’s Nimita’s Place (English fiction), Ng Yi-Sheng’s Lion City (English fiction), and more. Judges across the various categories include Yeow Kai Chai (chief judge for poetry), Clarissa Oon (chief judge for creative non-fiction) and Haresh Sharma (chief judge for fiction).

In the lead up to the virtual Awards Ceremony, there will also be a series of online #AtHomeWithSLP panel discussions based on the theme. The free events will feature SLP’s shortlisted writers dealing with thought-provoking topics that are relevant to our times such as home, history, diversity and the role of writers in a crisis.

The Singapore Literary Prize Award Ceremony will be broadcast online on 27th August 2020 at 8pm on the Singapore Book Council’s Facebook and YouTube pages. Members of the public may register for the ceremony here. For more information and the full list of nominees, visit their website here

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