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Lisa Ko

Lisa Ko’s debut novel, The Leavers, had the rare honor of entering the world with accolades already to its name. In 2016 the manuscript for the book won the 2016 PEN/Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction. The award is given to unpublished authors and often includes a book contract. Ko received, and missed, a phone call from author Barbara Kingsolver to tell her that she’d won. The Leavers tells the story of Deming Guo, whose mother Polly disappeared when he was eleven. After being raised by a white family and renamed Daniel, he delves back into his past to find out what became of his mother. Before publishing The Leavers, Ko worked in book and magazine publishing in New York City, as well as television production in San Francisco. She is the cofounder of Hyphen and is a fiction editor at Drunken Boat. She has been the recipient of a number of fellowships, including  the New York Foundation for the Arts and the MacDowell Colony. Her writing has been featured in the New York Times, Best American Short Stories 2016, and Brooklyn Review, among others.

NBC News profile

The Leavers Kirkus review