Sarawak-Born Nadia Mikail Wins UK Book Prize for Apocalyptic Malaysian Tale

Feature Image courtesy of Ling/Waterstones Children's Book Prize/The Guardian
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In The Cats We Meet Along the Way, 17-year-old Aisha has not seen her sister June in two years, embarking on a journey to find her in the middle of an apocalypse!

Sarawak-born author Nadia Mikail has just received a Waterstones Children’s Book Prize for her stellar debut novel, The Cats We Meet Along the Way, in the UK. Winning the majority vote by Waterstones booksellers, The Cats We Meet Along the Way won in the ‘older’ category, receiving a grand prize of GBP5,000 (RM27,253)!

Law student at King’s College London, Nadia Mikail, with her first novel, ‘The Cats We Meet Along the Way’, at Hatchards in London. PIC COURTESY OF NAZIRA
Nadia Mikail | Image Credit: Nazira/NST

Described as a “phenomenal and tender debut,” law student Mikail’s book was written after being affected by the Covid-19 pandemic where she was separated from her family who remained in Sarawak while she pursued law in London. Her heart-tugging tale is described as “worst-case scenario” situation in which she was away from her loved ones during the occurrence of an apocalypse.

“In the midst of trying to kind of work out those anxieties through writing, I realized the only thing we can do is care for the people we love every day and hope for a better future for them even when things seem hopeless,” she said about her novel.

Nadia Mikail Juggles Law School While Publishing A Novel
Image Credit: RiseMalaysia

In The Cats We Meet Along the Way, 17-year-old Aisha has not seen her sister June in two years. With a looming humanity-ending apocalypse set to occur within nine months, Aisha and her mother decide to venture out and find June, not just for her safety, but also in the hopes of mending past hurts and grievances.

Along with Aisha’s, cat, boyfriend, and her boyfriend’s family, the group embarks on a road trip through Malaysia in campervan, in search of June and emotional reconcilement.

Sharing her thoughts on the novel, Florentyna Martin — the head of Waterstone’s children’s content, said that it “sparkles in the growing market for older readers”.

“Booksellers were overwhelmed by the tenderness woven through each chapter; the moments of silence between the characters are as truthful and evocative as their conversations,” she said. “Mikail has ultimately crafter a novel of hope, set against an eventful road trip, that encourages us to share stories and dreams.”

You can read The Cats We Meet Along the Way by purchasing it on MPH Online or Book Depository.

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