Malaysian author Hanna Alkaf is making us proud with her recent achievement in winning a Freeman Book Award! Her debut young adult novel tackles two very heavy topics but does it really well. Firstly, it talks about the May 13 incident which saw riots happening in the Kuala Lumpur area. Secondly, it tackles the subject of mental illnesses which can be a heavy subject on its own.
The Weight of Our Sky by Hanna Alkaf
The Weight of Our Sky is the debut novel from Hanna Alkaf which has already gained lots of attention. It is a story about a 16-year old girl with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) during the May 13 riots. In addition, she battles not only the physical obstacles but also her inner-self on this journey to reunite with her mother.
Furthermore, The Weight of Our Sky was published last year under US publisher Simon & Schuster Book’s Salaam Reads imprint. Additionally, it received numerous positive reviews from a variety of American publications. This also includes Publishers Weekly and Kirkus Reviews.
Hanna Alkaf graduated from Northwestern University with a degree in journalism and has since worked a number of writing jobs. She has worked as a copywriter, senior writer, communications manager, and now an author. Her work includes press releases, corporate annual reports, and social media posts.
The Freeman Book Awards
Moving on, the Freeman Book Awards is organised by three main bodies. These are the National Consortium for Teaching about Asia (NCTA), the Committee on Teaching about Asia (CTA) of the Association for Asian Studies (AAS), and Asia for Educators (AFE) at Columbia University.
Moreover, the purpose of the Freeman Book Awards is to recognise quality books for children and young adults. These books also contribute meaningfully to understanding stories from Southeast Asia. The two categories include Children’s and Young Adults.
Hanna Alkaf was simply over the moon when she received the news that The Weight of Our Sky is one of the winners in the ‘Young Adult/High School Literature’ category. Especially considering that this is her very first published novel!
But she isn’t stopping there. This year she will also be publishing her debut Middle Grade novel titled ‘The Girl & The Ghost’. It will be published by HarperCollins and features a girl and her interactions with a ghost.
It’s great to see such talent coming from our Malaysians and we should do our part in supporting them! Grab one of Hanna Alkaf’s book and you’ll be treated to such a local story.