Writer Marylyn Tan is also the first female to win the English Poetry award 

Besides observing the inaugural Singapore Literature Prize (SLP) virtual awards ceremony last Thursday evening (Aug 27), organisers Singapore Book Council also achieved many firsts this year by handing out unprecedented wins to several literary talents.

For the first time in SLP history, two writers share the top prize in both the English and Chinese fiction categories; a female writer has clinched the Poetry award in the English division; and the new Readers’ Favourite awards were handed out as the public voted for their favourite shortlisted books across four languages—bringing the total wins to 20 spread among 17 writers.

First, the two biggest winners at this year’s Singapore Literature Prize are Wong Koi Tet and Sithuraj Ponraj, both securing two wins each. Wong was virtually crowned via the Singapore Book Council (SBC)’s Facebook and YouTube pages for his self-published book Dakota that impressed in the Chinese Creative Nonfiction category, as well as his Chinese fiction piece Black Panther that saw a co-win. Meanwhile, Sithuraj Ponraj is the winner for Poetry in Tamil and a Merit Winner for Fiction in Tamil.

A standout among the first-time shortlisted winners is Marylyn Tan, who also made SLP history as the first female to win the Poetry award in the English category thanks to her first published book, Gaze Back, which looks at taboo subjects like sexuality and menstruation. The same English division also saw the highly-coveted Fiction prize awarded to both authors Akshita Nanda and Ng Yi-Sheng for their popular novels Nimita’s Place and Lion City respectively.

But that’s not all. To continue the discussion of the growing calibre of Singaporean writers, particularly in fiction, the Singapore Book Council will be organising an online series of conversations and workshops featuring the SLP 2020 judges. Conducted in four languages, expect to see these events doled out from September to October and hear about the judges’ craft and experience in the literary arts sector.

Furthermore, readers can continue to get up close and personal with the shortlisted writers on the Singapore Book Council’s Facebook page by watching the #AtHomeWithSLP series of panel discussions, which features the shortlisted SLP writers discussing topics that are relevant to their works.

So apart from celebrating our local literary talents, get to hear from them over the course of the next few months too. Now not only can you read their works, but you can put a face to the name as well.

Browse the full list of winning authors and books here. More information available here.