Books by Lisa
One morning, Deming Guo’s mother, Polly, an undocumented Chinese immigrant, goes to her job at a nail salon. But she doesn’t come home. No one can find any trace of her.
With his mother gone, eleven-year-old Deming is left mystified – and bereft. Eventually adopted by a pair of well-meaning white professors, Deming is moved from the Bronx to a small town upstate and renamed Daniel Wilkinson. But far from all he’s ever known, Daniel struggles to reconcile his new life and the challenges of meeting his adoptive parents’ academic demands with his mother’s disappearance and the memories of the community he had to leave behind.
Told from the perspective of both Daniel – as he grows into a troubled young man – and Polly, Ko’s novel also reveals the unnerving story of Polly’s disappearance, and through her we encounter one of fiction’s most singular mothers. Loving and selfish, determined and frightened, Polly is forced to make one difficult choice after another.
Set in New York and China, THE LEAVERS, is a vivid and moving examination of borders and belonging. It’s the story of how one boy comes into his own when everything he knows and loves is taken away, and how a mother learns to live with the mistakes of the past.
This powerful debut is the winner of the 2016 PEN/Bellwether Prize for Fiction, awarded by Barbara Kingsolver for a novel that addresses issues of social justice.
Praise for The Leavers
A rich and sensitive portrait of lives lived across borders, cultures, and languages. . . one of the most engaging, deeply probing, and beautiful books I have read this year.Laila Lalami, author of The Moor’s Account
One of 2017's most anticipated fiction debuts, Lisa Ko's The Leavers tells the story of an 11-year-old boy whose mother, an undocumented Chinese immigrant, goes to work one morning and never comes home. Adopted by a pair of white academics who transport him to an upstate college town, the boy straddles the fully American future his new parents envision for him and the past that's rapidly receding from view. The winner of last year's PEN/Bellwether Prize, which recognizes fiction that explores issues of social justice, The Leavers feels as relevant as ever as the future of immigrants in America hangs in the balance.Time.com
Ko’s debut novel has already won the 2016 PEN/Bellwether Award for Socially Engaged Fiction, a prize created and selected by Barbara Kingsolver. The contest awards a novel “that addresses issues of social justice and the impact of culture and politics on human relationships,” and Ko’s book certainly fits that laudable description.The Millions
An inspiring debut, which focuses on issues of assimilation and the true meaning of home. Ko’s unforgettable narrative voice is a credit to the moving stories of immigration, loss, recovery, and acceptance that feel particularly suited to our times.Nylon.com
This timely novel depicts the heart- and spirit-breaking difficulties faced by illegal immigrants with meticulous specificity.Kirkus Reviews