Start an Asian literary prize here

As a journalism student in London, I was able to attend the Booker Prize ceremony once. It was 1984 and Anita Brookner won for Hotel Du Lac.

Now known as the Man Booker Prize for Fiction, it is a literary prize awarded each year for the best original novel, written in the English language and published in the United Kingdom.

Singapore should hold a similar Asian version of this to recognise the best literary work in this part of the world. The Republic would be a great place in which to do it and it would give a huge lift to local writers to work towards greater heights and perhaps even win a Booker Prize one day.

What should follow, and this is important, is international renown and success for the winner.

It is also of great significance for the book trade.

Everything is in place to encourage this happening. All it requires is the support, and a little prodding, from those in high places.


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The Booker Prize ceremony is normally held at the Guildhall in London. Our national monuments, such as the National Museum or National Gallery Singapore, could be the venue for such a prize award ceremony in Singapore.

The country has the means to host a high-profile literary award such as this and ensure it is greeted with great anticipation and fanfare, a mark of distinction for shortlisted authors or even those nominated for the longlist.

Manoraj Rajathurai

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 07, 2017, with the headline 'Start an Asian literary prize here'. Print Edition | Subscribe