Entertainment Arts Malaysian author surprised by win at Freeman Book Awards

Malaysian author surprised by win at Freeman Book Awards

Prize focuses on writing by children and young adults that boosts understanding of East and South-east Asia




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Malaysian author Hanna Alkaf has won in the Young Adult/High School Literature Category of the 2019 Freeman Book Awards.

The awards are initiated by the National Consortium for Teaching about Asia at Columbia University. They are focused on writing by children and young adults that boosts  understanding of East and South-east Asia.

Hanna, 34, who was interviewed by Mashable SEA after her win, said she did not expect her novel to come so far and that she was humbled by the award.

Hanna’s The Weight Of Our Sky was published last year by US-based Simon & Schuster. It is about the 1969 riots in Kuala Lumpur, during which a teen having obsessive-compulsive disorder tries to find her mother.

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Late last year, the novel was selected to be featured on Webtoon, a digital comic platform founded in South Korea in 2004 and launched in the US in 2014.

Malaysian authors have recently made the country proud. Tan Twan Eng’s The Garden of Evening Mists was made into a film, while Yangsze Choo’s The Ghost Bride was turned into a Netflix series.

Saras Manickam was the first Malaysian to receive the 2019 Commonwealth Short Story Prize in the Asian region with My Mother Pattu, and Zen Cho won the Hugo Award for If At First You Don’t Succeed, Try, Try Again.

Now, Hanna has won a Freeman Book Award.


Hanna Alkaf won award for her novel. Picture: Instagram

Hanna has more for readers. She will be doing a middle grade novel, i.e. those for children 8 to 12 years old. The work, titled The Girl & The Ghost, will be published in August.

She is also contributing a piece to a collection of short stories, titled Once Upon An Eid, which will go on sale in May. /TISG

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