PETALING JAYA, Jan 24 — Author Hanna Alkaf’s debut young adult novel, Weight of Our Sky bagged the Young Adult/High School Literature Category award at the Freeman Book Awards.

The KL-born writer became the first Malaysian to win the award, initiated by the National Consortium for Teaching About Asia (NCTA) at Columbia University, with the book that was published last year.

The award is handed out annually to new young adult and children’s literature that have contributed meaningfully to understanding East and Southeast Asia,

The story, also available as a digital comic on the Webtoon app, tells the tale of a music-loving teen, Melati Ahmad, who suffers from obsessive compulsive disorder.

With the backdrop of the race riots in 1969 in Kuala Lumpur, the conflict escalates in the story when both Melati and her mother are separated due to the racial tensions.

Hanna announced she won the award in her Twitter account that had received 1,400 likes so far, with fans and friends congratulating her including wishes from the Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail.



Hanna’s upcoming work is her contribution to a collection of short stories titled Once Upon an Eid which will be published this May and The Girl and the Ghost, set to be published in August. 

Hannah’s win is a first at the Freeman Book Awards after Shamini Flint, who is now based in Singapore, received an Honourable Mention in 2017 with Ten: A Soccer Story.