Lisa Ko’s uncompromising, timely debut novel, THE LEAVERS, not only won the PEN/Bellwether Prize for Fiction – awarded by Barbara Kingsolver to a novel that addresses contemporary issues of social justice – last year, but was also a finalist for the National Book Award and the Barnes & Noble Discover Awards. Ko’s penetrating and emotionally rich work courageously tackles rarely-talked-about subtleties behind larger issues of immigration and adoption as it looks at questions of what it means to belong. Garnering tremendous critical acclaim nationwide, THE LEAVERS became one of the best books of 2017.
When eleven-year-old Deming Guo’s mother, Polly, an undocumented Chinese immigrant, fails to come home from work one day at the nail salon, he is left on his own. Adopted by two white college professors, he moves from the Bronx to upstate New York, where his name is changed to Daniel Wilkinson and his well-intentioned new parents try to give him an all-American life. But the boy, haunted by his mother’s disappearance and memories of all he has been forced to leave behind, struggles to embrace fully this new reality. Told from the perspective of both Daniel –as he grows into a troubled young man–and Polly, the narrative unravels the unnerving mystery of Polly’s disappearance and the difficult choice she is forced to make.
Lisa Ko’s fiction has appeared in Best American Short Stories 2016, Apogee Journal, Narrative, Copper Nickel, Storychord, One Teen Story, Brooklyn Review, and elsewhere. A co-founder of Hyphen and a fiction editor at Drunken Boat, Lisa has been awarded fellowships and residencies from the New York Foundation for the Arts, the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, the MacDowell Colony, the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation, Writers OMI at Ledig House, the Jerome Foundation, Blue Mountain Center, the Van Lier Foundation, Hawthornden Castle, the I-Park Foundation, the Anderson Center, the Constance Saltonstall Foundation, and the Kimmel Harding Nelson Center. Born in Queens and raised in Jersey, she lives in Brooklyn.