Pakistani-American writer Usman T. Malik has won the 2022 Crawford Award, for his story collection Midnight Doorways: Fables from Pakistan (Kitab (Pvt) Ltd.). The award is presented annually by the International Association for the Fantastic in the Arts.
Malik is the first Pakistani to win the award. His debut collection, Midnight Doorways is an anthology of seven science fiction short stories, all taking place in or otherwise related to Pakistan. In one story, set in the ruins of a city besieged by the Taliban, a woman chaperoning a school trip is confronted with horror as boys start to go missing. Another story captures two lovers strolling through Old Lahore of the 1960s, as floodwaters begin to rise around them. An orphanage for girls in Lahore is visited by strange birds and eerie visions in another story.
The runners-up for this year’s award were E. Lily Yu’s novel On Fragile Waves (Erewhon), and Isabel Yap’s collection Never Have I Ever (Small Beer). Previous winners include Carmen Maria Machado, Charles De Lint, Joe Hill, and Jonathan Lethem.
The IAFA Crawford Award recognizes an outstanding new writer whose first fantasy book was published during the previous calendar year. The award will be presented to Malik at a banquet on March 19, during the 43rd International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts in Orlando, Florida.
Malik’s short fiction has previously won the British Fantasy and the Bram Stoker awards and been nominated for the World Fantasy, Nebula, Locus, and Eugis Foster awards. His work has been reprinted in several Year’s Best collections, including the Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy series and featured in Al-Jazeera and WIRED magazine. He also co-founded the Salam Award for Imaginative Fiction, which aims to highlight burgeoning science fiction writers of Pakistani origin.