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.
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 and a National Book Award finalist.
"“Here is imperative reading: a vivid fictional exploration of what it means to belong and what it feels like when you don't . . . Ko gives us an unsparing portrait of the resilience and grit it takes to risk everything to break free of tradition and start over in a foreign land.”" —O, The Oprah Magazine
"“Ambitious . . . Lisa Ko has taken the headlines and has reminded us that beyond them lie messy, brave, extraordinary, ordinary lives.”" —New York Times Book Review