After two years of restrictions and social distancing, the Singapore Literature Prize (SLP) awards ceremony made its return in-person for the first time since 2018 at Victoria Theatre. Suratman Markasan and Wang Gungwu have made history as the oldest winners of SLP, while eight of the 12 recipients are first-time winners with a mix of seasoned and emerging writers. Tamil writer ரமா சுரேஷ் (Rama Suresh) clinched two awards, in both the Tamil Fiction and Readers’ Favourite Tamil category.
The first-time winners include அழகுநிலா (Azhagunila), இன்பா (Inbha), Jee Leong Koh, ரமா சுரேஷ் (Rama Suresh), Suratman Markasan, Wang Gungwu, Yeow Kai Chai and 语凡 (Yu Fan). Literary pioneer Edwin Thumboo also received the SBC Achievement Award from the GOH Edwin Tong, Minister for Culture, Community, and Youth.
All the winners of SLP’s English categories are clinching the literary award for the first time. Joining the nonagenarian Wang, who celebrates his 92nd birthday in October, is Yeow Kai Chai, the former director of the Singapore Writers Festival director. Completing the winners’ list is Jee Leong Koh, who won for his debut novel Snow at 5 PM: Translations of an Insignificant Japanese Poet. Jee Leong was also shortlisted in the Poetry category.
Each winner in the 12 categories receives a cash prize of S$3,000. They also get a special hand-crafted trophy and a 12-month gift code to audiobook platform StoryTel.
Four writers beat out their competition to lay claim to the popular Readers’ Favourite award. More than 4,000 voters voted, almost doubling the number of votes cast in 2020. The writers of the four winning books – Ali bin Salim, Daryl Qilin Yam, 潘正镭 (Pan Cheng Lui) and ரமா சுரேஷ் (Rama Suresh)—each receives a cash prize of S$1,000, with their voters standing the chance to win book vouchers worth $50.
The full list of winners is as follows:
诗歌 (Chinese Poetry) – Yu Fan for 我们不知道的归类 (Unable to Classify)
非虚构写作 (Creative Non-fiction in Chinese) – Wong Koi Tet for 小东西
小说 (Fiction in Chinese) – Xi Ni Er aka Chia Hwee Pheng for 丹那美拉的潮声 (Sound of the Tides @ Tanah Merah)
Poetry – Yeow Kai Chai for One to the Dark Tower Comes
Creative Non-fiction – Wang Guangwu for Home is Where We Are
Fiction – Jee Leong Koh for Snow at 5 PM: Translations of an Insignificant Japanese Poet
Puisi (Poetry in Malay) – Hartinah binte Ahmad for Gandoura
Bukan Fiksyen Creatif (Creative Non-fiction in Malay) – Suratman Markasan for Mengasah Kalam Jilid 2
Fiksyen (Fiction in Malay) – Farihan Bahron for Kepala Kotak
கவிதை (Poetry in Tamil) – Inbha இன்பா for லயாங் லயாங் குருவிகளின் கீச்சொலிகள் (Layan Layang Bird Tweets)
புதினம் அல்லாத படைப்பு (Creative Non-fiction in Tamil) – Azhagunila அழகுநிலா for மொழிவழிக் கனவு (Dream Through Language)
புதினம் (Fiction in Tamil) – Rama Suresh ரமா சுரேஷ் for அம்பரம் (The sky, atmosphere/ infinite space, either, as one of the elements)
Pan Cheng Lui for 太阳正走过半个下午 (The Sun Just Past Mid-afternoon)
Daryl Qilin Yam for Shantih Shantih Shantih
Ali Bin Salim for Kampong Keranji 1948 -1973
Rama Suresh ரமா சுரேஷ் for அம்பரம் (The sky, atmosphere/ infinite space, either, as one of the elements)
For those who have missed the ceremony, they can still watch it on SBC’s website, YouTube and Facebook from Monday 29th August onwards. Furthermore, readers will be able to meet the winners and shortlisted authors in upcoming meet-the-author outreach events.
The 2022 Singapore Literature Prize awards ceremony was held at Victoria Theatre on 25th August 2022 at 8pm. For more information, visit https://bookcouncil.sg/awards/singapore-literature-prize. More information about the programmes featuring SLP’s writers will be added to the website in the coming days.