Have you picked up a Hanna Alkaf book lately? Well, you definitely should since she might become a Kirkus Prize winner very soon!
Still glimmering from the success of her first book, The Weight of Our Sky, it seems like Hanna Alkaf’s light continues to shine on as her most recent release, The Girl and the Ghost, has now been nominated for the acclaimed Kirkus Prize.
Headquartered in New York City, book-review magazine Kirkus Reviews started the Kirkus Prize in 2014, bestowing cash prizes annually to authors of fiction, nonfiction, and young readers’ literature.
For the uninitiated, Hanna Alkaf appeared on readers’ radars when she published her first title, The Weight of Our Sky, which circumnavigates the racial tension in Malaysia during the May 13 1969 riots through the perspective of a young girl with mental illness.
Although she is not the first to write about such heavy topics, Alkaf’s way of entwining a sharp focus on mental health while weaving a tragic yet poignant coming-of-age story during a turbulent time in Malaysia was unique, especially for adolescent readers.
In JUICE’s interview with Alkaf last year, she teased the release of her most recent novel, The Girl and the Ghost, which is a middle-grade book about a Malay girl who inherits a ghost. Staying true to Malaysian roots and culture, the book adds a fresh narrative that us Malaysians rarely see in middle-grade fantasy.
View this post on Instagram
Fast forward a year and a worldwide pandemic later, the author giddily announced on her social media that she has now been nominated for the prize. Winners of the award will not only get international recognition due to the merit Kirkus holds but each winner will also receive a cash prize of USD50,000.
It would be a massive cause for celebration if Alkaf were to win the prize and be the first Malaysian to have that Kirkus signature-star stamped on her book. Eventually, it would encourage budding authors in Malaysia to reach for the stars, or in Alkaf’s case, the sky.
Hanna Alkaf’s The Weight of Our Sky has also been translated into a terrific webcomic which you can read here.