The Weight of the Unspoken

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Everything is okay until it is not. People greet each other pleasantly until they turn to killing the other. Just like that, everything can change.

It is the suddenness of it all – the thought that a single spark can set raging fire to hidden racial tensions – that fills me with a chill. The chill lingers all the way through as I devour Hanna Alkaf ’s best-selling debut novel The Weight of Our Sky.

The story is set in one of Malaysia’s most painful times – the race riots of May 13, 1969 – as seen through the bewildered eyes of Melati Ahmad, a 16-year-old schoolgirl. One moment, Melati and her friend were watching a movie in Rex Cinema; the next, they were fighting for their lives with deadly mobs on the streets.


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