Singapore Book Awards: 38 Finalists Named for 2021’s Prizes

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The Singapore Book Awards this year add a ‘hybrid book’ category and open a new reader’s choice voting program.

Masked citizens downtown at Singapore’s ArtScience Museum in the Marina Bay Sands resort. Image – Getty iStockphoto: Miguel Vidal

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

Winners’ Ceremony on September 24
The Singapore Book Publishers Association has announced its finalists for the 2021 Singapore Book Awards, and they’re listed in nine categories:

  • Hybrid Book (a new category)
  • Audiobook 
  • Illustrated Nonfiction Title 
  • Literary Work 
  • Young Persons Title 
  • Education Title 
  • Picture Book 
  • Nonfiction Title 
  • Book Cover Design

Books placed in contention as finalists include autobiography and biography, creative nonfiction, graphic novels, Singapore history, local community history, local heritage cuisine, textbooks, and supplementary educational titles.

A hybrid awards ceremony is anticipated for the program on September 24 when shortlisted publishers will attend the in-person event at the Jurong Town Hall’s auditorium. The awards program is to be streamed by the Singapore council in association with the ASEAN Book Publishers Association in what’s being called a “phygital” hybrid, sponsored by HP Singapore, Lazada, Markono Print Media, Rakuten Kobo, and Storytel Singapore. The program will have additional support from Info-Communications Media Development Authority, the National Library Board, and the council.

A hallmark of this prize program is that all entries must be published in one of the four official languages of Singapore–English, Tamil, Malay, and Mandarin Chinese. Each submission has been required to carry a Singapore ISBN and to have been published between January 1 and December 31, 2020.

Singapore Book Awards 2021 Finalists

Hybrid Book

Title Publisher Author(s)
One Havelock Square State Courts and Redbean De The Nutgraf LLP
Our Blood Runs Red Just Like Yours Potato Productions, parent company of Tusitala Eric WK Ng and Matte Pte Ltd.

Audiobook

Title Publisher Author(s) Narrator(s)
Cerita Mimi-Mimi Mahu Ke Mana Pustaka Nasional X Kwang
Translated into Malay
by Nur-El Hudaa Jaffar
Nur-El Hudaa Jaffar
Telur Emas Permaisuri Pustaka Nasional Noor Farzinah
Bte Noor Aziz and Nur Syafizah
Bte Rohayat
Saiful Amri
Nur Sodiqin
Mohd Fuad
El Kiraz Sodiqin
Raja Aniq
Danie Bin Raja
Muhd Qamarul
Impractical Uses of Cake Storytel Singapore Yeoh Jo-Ann Joshua Lim

Illustrated Nonfiction Title

Title Publisher Author(s) Design Team
How To Cook Everything Singaporean Epigram Books Denise Fletcher Jael Ng
Celebrating Our City in Nature National Parks Board and Redbean De National Parks Board National Parks Board

Literary Work

Title Publisher Author(s)
This Side of Heaven Epigram Books Cyril Wong
Sembawang: A Novel Marshall Cavendish International (Asia) Kamaladevi Aravindan
Translated by Anitha Devi Pillai
And Softly Go the Crossings Penguin Random House SEA Danielle Lim
The Sea Speaks His Name  Penguin Random House SEA Leila Chudori
Translated by John H. McGlynn
Wing of the Locust Scholastic Joel Donato Ching Jacob

Young Persons Title

Title Publisher Author(s)
My BFF Is an Alien: Sabotage Epigram Books Vivian Teo
Sherlock Sam and the Seafaring Scourge on Sentosa Epigram Books A.J. Low
Raffles Readers: A Century of Adventures Penguin Random House SEA David Seow
Claire Thamboo
Simon Wray
Linda Fitzpatrick
Emma Nicholson
Illustrated by Mark Yong

Education Title

Title Publisher Author(s)
I (Issue 15) ILoveReading.sg G. Shoba, editor-in-chief
iNSPIRE (Issues 27, 28) ILoveReading.sg G. Shoba, editor-in-chief
iTHINK (Issues 30, 31) ILoveReading.sg G. Shoba, editor-in-chief
New Discovering Mathematics 1A Star Publishing Chow Wai Keung
Huo Da
Ng Kok Min
Think Mathematics
Textbooks 2A and 2B, eighth edition: bundle
Shing Lee Publishers Joseph B. W. Yeo
Choy Ban Heng
Teh Keng Seng
Wong Lai Fong
Sharon Lee
Under the Stars: Astrophysics for Everyone World Scientific Publishing Lisa Harvey-Smith

Picture Book

Title Publisher Author(s) Illustrator(s)
Just a Little Mynah Epigram Books Evelyn Sue Wong Dhanendra Poediono
Saturday’s Surprisingly Super-Duper Lesson Epigram Books Jolene Tan Isabella Tong
The Marvelous Sugee Cake Epigram Books Quek Hong Shin Quek Hong Shin
Captain Green and the Tree Machine Marshall Cavendish International (Asia) Evelyn Bookless Danny Deeptown
The Boy and the Box Marshall Cavendish International (Asia) Leila Boukarim
Shameer Bismilla
Barbara Moxham
Everyday Ninja Penguin Random House SEA Leila Boukarim Barbara Moxham

Nonfiction Title

Title Publisher Author(s)
The Longest Shortcut Landmark Books Anil David
Home Is Where We Are NUS Press Wang Gungwu with
Margaret Wang
Lives and Times of HRH NUS Press Herman Ronald Hochstadt
The Votive Pen Penguin Random House SEA Nilanjana Sengupta
Fifty Secrets of Singapore’s Success Straits Times Press Tommy Koh, editor
Governing: A Singapore Perspective  Straits Times Press S. Jayakumar
My Father’s Kampung: A History of Aukang and Punggol World Scientific Publishing Shawn Seah

Book Cover Design

Title Publisher Designers(s)
How To Cook Everything Singaporean Epigram Books Jael Ng
The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye: 5th Anniversary Edition Epigram Books Yong Wen Yeu
Early Hawkers in Singapore: 1920s to 1930s Focus Publishing Tony Law and Fish Chan
Food Republic: A Singapore Literary Banquet Landmark Books Lim An-Ling
The Longest Shortcut Landmark Books Goh Eck Kheng
If We Dream Too Long NUS Press Khor Seow Hooi

The Singapore Book Awards also include a 10th category for Book of the Year. That one is juried after the other nine categories’ winners have been selected.

A new component this year involves a Readers’ Choice Award, with access to the top nine key categories (all but Book of the Year). Voting is available here. Only Singapore residents, 18 and older, may vote, and voting ends on September 20.


More from Publishing Perspectives on Singapore is here, and more on publishing and book awards is here.

More from us on the coronavirus pandemic and its impact on the publishing industry is here.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson is a non-resident fellow of Trends Research & Advisory, and he has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with CNN.com, CNN International, and CNN USA. As as an arts critic (National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.

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