Popular local reads shine in the Singapore Literature Prize 2020 shortlist

It has been two solid years for local literature, and now the biennial Singapore Literature Prize (SLP) 2020 is ready to return and crown new reads, all in spite of the ongoing global crisis and its impact on organisers Singapore Book Council.

With a total of 52 works shortlisted in 12 categories across three genres of Poetry, Fiction and Creative Nonfiction as well as four languages of Chinese, English, Malay and Tamil, the SLP 2020 will be held online only for the very first time via the Singapore Book Council’s Facebook page and YouTube channel on Aug 27 at 8pm.

So expect to see 47 writers vie for the top award in each of the categories, which comes with a cash prize of $3,000, as well as a special plaque. And although the prize money is a reduction from the previous $10,000 due to smaller funding this year, it is still rather exciting that there are more nominees since 2018, with more than half of the writers being shortlisted for the first time.

Then enjoy the new theme of #WhyWeWrite as it comes to live in this 2020 edition, in addition to an introduction of a brand new category: SLP Readers’ Favourite. The public is invited to vote for their favourite shortlisted book across all the four languages; the winning writers will receive a cash prize of $1,000 while their voters stand the chance to win book vouchers.

Of the announced shortlisted titles, popular local reads from the past two years such as This Is What Inequality Looks Like by Teo You Yenn, Amanda Lee Koe’s Delayed Rays of a Star and Nimita’s Place by Akshita Nanada are spotlighted.

The former is competing under the Creative Nonfiction English category, alongside pieces that span forms of ethnography, memoir and essay covering a diverse range of topics including career and social issues, as seen in Lost at 15, Found at 50 by former journalist Ashwini Devare.

Meanwhile, the latter two are seen in the hotly contested Fiction English genre which also includes How We Disappeared by Jing-Jing Lee and Ng Yi Sheng’s Lion City. The former is a novel account of the Japanese occupation of Singapore, while the latter paints a picture of a futuristic Singapore island.

But don’t forget to check out the poetry entries either, as five poets from different generations make up this year’s shortlist, including literary pioneer Edwin Thumboo who is a first-time nominee.

Plus, in the lead up to the virtual awards ceremony, participate in a series of free, online #AtHomeWithSLP events that are centered around the 2020 theme. From understanding the role of writers in a crisis to how the shortlisted candidates deal with social issues, get valuable insights from the authors themselves.

So take this opportunity to read up on the novels and attend the exciting discussions before seeing it all culminate in the Singapore Literature Prize 2020 awards ceremony where you can root for your favourite books. After all, there’s no better time to celebrate Singlit than during the month of August.

Singapore Literature Prize 2020 happens Aug 28, 8pm via the Singapore Book Council’s Facebook page and YouTube channel. More information available here