Episode Summary

In today’s episode, author Lisa Ko discusses her debut novel, “The Leavers,” which chronicles the powerful and intertwining stories of a boy in search of his own identity, and the mother who was separated from him at a formative age. “The Leavers” was shortlisted for the National Book Award in addition to winning the Pen/Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction, and also named a one of the best books from 2017 by NPR, Entertainment Weekly, the Los Angeles Times, BuzzFeed, and Bustle.

“The Leavers” is available now on Scribd.

Episode Notes

In today’s episode, author Lisa Ko discusses her debut novel, “The Leavers,” which chronicles the powerful and intertwining stories of Deming Guo and his mother, Polly, as both embark on their own search for identity. Early on, Polly is separated from Deming, and shortly thereafter Deming is adopted by a couple of loving — if not somewhat misinformed — American professors. He is then forced to navigate the memory of family and culture he left behind in tandem with his adoptive parent’s desire to raise him as a modern, middle-class American. As such, Ko’s novel explores the themes of identity, culture, and the definition of family.

“The Leavers” was shortlisted for the National Book Award in addition to winning the Pen/Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction, and also named a one of the best books from 2017 by NPR, Entertainment Weekly, the Los Angeles Times, BuzzFeed, and Bustle.

In today’s episode, Ko discusses the real-life stories that inspired “The Leavers,” why she felt the story in her book was worth telling, and what she learned while writing her debut novel. We talk about pacing, prose, the importance of listening to a killer soundtrack while writing, and, of course, the many nicknames that Ko as earned throughout her career.

You can read Lisa Ko’s “The Leavers” on Scribd.

About the Show

ScribdChat is the podcast from reading subscription service, Scribd. Each new episode will feature thoughtful conversations with leading authors, and give listeners a deep-dive look into unique insights from new and prominent books that they can apply to their own lives.