Pakistani-American Usman T Malik this week became the first author from Pakistan to win the prestigious IAFA William L. Crawford Fantasy Award, a literary prize given each year to a writer whose first fantasy book was published during the preceding 18 months.
The prize is one of several awards given by the International Association for the Fantastic in the Arts (IAFA), and is presented at a conference each March in Orlando. Over its nearly 40 year-history, the Crawford has been given to only one other book published outside the Anglo countries (Zen Cho’s Spirits Abroad published in Malaysia). A Muslim author has never won the award.
Malik has won for his story collection Midnight Doorways: Fables from Pakistan. Among the collection’s tales is one about a woman chaperoning a school trip who is stranded in the ruins of a pre-Islamic city and faces ancient horrors as boys go missing and the fog rolls in. Another story tells the tale of two lovers set adrift amid rising floodwaters in 1960s Old Lahore and one more is about a Lahori orphanage for girls haunted by birds and eerie visions.
“Big News,” Malik announced on his Instagram page. “MIDNIGHT DOORWAYS has won the 2022 Crawford Award for best first fantasy book!”