SINGAPORE: For the first time, a graphic novel has won the Singapore Literature Prize (SLP) - comic artist Sonny Liew's The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye took the English fiction award at the SLP ceremony on Thursday (Jul 14) evening.
The graphic novel, which also won the Book of the Year accolade at the Singapore Book Awards in May, tells the story of a comic book artist during the formative years of Singapore's modern history. It was thrust into the spotlight after the National Arts Council withdrew its grant for the book just before it was launched last year, saying that it breached funding guidelines through its "retelling of Singapore's history (which) potentially underminds the authority or legitimacy of the Government".
The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye by Mr Sonny Liew. (Photo: SLP)
The accolade was among the record 22 awards that were given to 22 authors across 12 categories this year. The biennial award also saw a record number of 235 entries submitted.
15 awards were given to 16 authors in 2014.
The SLP's English poetry prize was shared again this year, this time by poets Cyril Wong for The Lover’s Inventory and Desmond Kon Zhicheng-Mingde for I Didn’t Know Mani Was a Conceptualist. In a media release, the organisers noted that although the two poets' collections are very different in style and content, both are of outstanding quality. Wong was also a co-winner of the SLP's English poetry prize in 2006, with Yong Shu Hoong. The organisers added that Wong and Yong are the only two authors writing in English across all categories to have been awarded the prize twice.
First-time published writer Danielle Lim was co-winner of the English non-fiction prize for The Sound of SCH: A Mental Breakdown, A Life Journey. She shared the prize with Peh Shing Huei, author of When the Party Ends – another first-time SLP entrant.
Danielle Lim, author of The Sound of SCH: A Mental Breakdown, A Life Journey. (Photo: SLP)
Chin Kah Chong won the Chinese non-fiction prize with a book on Singapore's founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, titled Wo Suo Zhi Dao De Li Guang Yao.
LKY Whom I Knew by Chin Kah Chong. (Photo: SLP)
A number of the other authors on this year's prize list had also won in previous years. Yeng Pway Ngon was awarded the Merit award for Chinese fiction. It is his fourth award, having won awards in the Chinese category in 2004, 2008 and 2012. He is tied with Mohamed Latiff Mohamed for the record of most SLP wins.
Yeng Pway Ngon, author of Xi Fu. (Photo: SLP)
SLP organisers said this year’s bumper crop of prizes was due to the record number of merit and commendation awards. A total of six merit awards and seven commendation awards were given this year, compared to three merit awards and one commendation award in 2014. Excluding these awards, there were nine winners in 2016, compared to 11 two years ago.
Maariligal by Sithuraj Ponraj. (Photo: SLP)
The prize money of S$107,000 was shared between the winners.
All shortlisted SLP titles are available at MPH Bookstores until October 2017.
2016 SINGAPORE LITERATURE PRIZE WINNERS
Merit: Singapoor Naanmani Maalai by Varadharajan AK
Merit: Kaatraai Kadanthaai by Sithuraj Ponraj
Winner: Tafsiran Tiga Alam by Hamed Ismail, Hartinah Ahmad and Samsudin Said
Merit: Zhu Xiang Xiang Er Ju by Gabriel Wu
Merit: Hang Hai Ji Shi by Tang Jui Piow
Co-winner: I Didn't Know Mani Was a Conceptualist by Desmond Kon Zhicheng-Mingde
Co-winner: The Lover's Inventory by Cyril Wong
Commendation: CK Makadoom Saiboo and Singai Nesan by Kotti Thirumuruganandam
Commendation: Kamban Kaattum Kanaikal by Varadharajan AK
Commendation: Nanavu Desam SG50 by Mohamed Kassim Shanavas
Commendation: Singapoor Tamil Munnodigal by SP Panneer Selvam
Commendation: Sekolahku Tinggal Kenangan by Hafiza Talib
Merit: Rentak Rebana by Ahmad Azmi Haji Mohamed Ishak
Winner: Wo Suo Zhi Dao De Li Guang Yao by Chin Kah Chong
Co-winner: The Sound of SCH: A Mental Breakdown, A Life Journey by Danielle Lim
Co-winner: When the Party Ends by Peh Shing Huei
Winner: Maariligal by Sithuraj Ponraj
Winner: Air Mata di Arafah by Peter Augustine Goh
Commendation: Fang Zhu Yu Zhui Zhu by Chia Joo Ming
Commendation: Shuang Kou Ding Yi Cun, Na Xie Nian Na Xie Shi by Cheong Weng Yat
Merit: Xi Fu by Yeng Pway Ngon
Winner: The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye by Sonny Liew