Hard Cover eBook


On sale date: 05-02-2017

PAGES: 352


ISBN: 978-1-61620-688-8

LIST PRICE: $25.95


On sale date: 05-02-2017

ISBN: 978-1-61620-713-7

LIST PRICE: $25.95

“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

An emotionally harrowing debut novel that explores assimilation and loss, immigration and homeland, independence and connection.

One morning, Deming Guo’s mother, an undocumented Chinese immigrant named Polly, goes to her job at the nail salon and never comes home. No one can find any trace of her.

With his mother gone, eleven-year-old Deming is left with no one to care for him. He is eventually adopted by two white college professors who move him from the Bronx to a small town upstate. They rename him Daniel Wilkinson in their efforts to make him over into their version of an “all-American boy.” But far away from all he’s ever known, Daniel struggles to reconcile his new life with his mother’s disappearance and the memories of the family and community he left behind.

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’s loved has been taken away–and how a mother learns to live with the mistakes of her 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.


"There was a time I would have called Lisa Ko’s novel beautifully written, ambitious and moving, and all of that is true, but it’s more than that now: if you want to understand a forgotten and essential part of the world we live in, The Leavers is required reading.” —Ann Patchett

"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

"Courageous, sensitive, and perfectly of this moment: The Leavers is everything I could hope for in a winner of the Bellwether Prize." —Barbara Kingsolver

“In The Leavers, Lisa Ko has created one of the most courageous mother character's in recent memory. Polly is brash, brave and heartbreaking and her ferocity is marvelous to behold. The Leavers is about the bonds between parents and children and the many pulls of home. It was a book I did not want to end.” —Kaitlyn Greenidge, author of We Love You, Charlie Freeman

Meet the Author

Lisa Ko is the author of The Leavers, a novel which won the 2016 PEN/Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction and will be published by Algonquin Books in 2017. Her short fiction has appeared in Best American Short Stories 2016, Apogee Journal, Narrative, Copper Nickel, Storychord, One Teen Story, the Asian Pacific American Journal, Brooklyn Review, and elsewhere. Her non-fiction has appeared in The Los Angeles Review of Books, Hyphen, and Guernica.

Lisa was a 2015-16 Lower Manhattan Cultural Council Workspace artist in residence and received a 2002 New York Foundation for the Arts Artists’ Fellowship in fiction. She has been awarded fellowships and residencies from 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.

A founding co-editor of Hyphen and a fiction editor at Drunken Boat, she has a BA from Wesleyan University, a MSLIS from San Jose State University, and a MFA from the City College of New York. She has worked in non-profit media; education; independent film; web, book and magazine publishing; and museum archives. The only child of Chinese immigrants from the Philippines, she was born in Queens, raised in Jersey, and lives in Brooklyn. She is a triple Scorpio. Visit her at lisa-ko.com.