|Born||New York City|
|Alma mater||Wesleyan University|
|Notable work||The Leavers|
|Awards||PEN/Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction, National Book Award for Fiction finalist|
Born in New York City, Ko grew up as the daughter of Chinese immigrants from the Philippines in a predominantly white area of suburban New Jersey. She began writing stories and keeping a journal at the age of five, though she only shared the work with others in high school, and found teachers encouraged her to pursue it. She then attended Wesleyan University, majoring in English.
Ko published her debut novel, The Leavers, with Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill in 2017 after winning the 2016 PEN/Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction. Established by Barbara Kingsolver, the prize awards $25,000 as well as a book contract for a work of previously unpublished fiction engaging social justice topics. The book follows Polly, an undocumented immigrant from China to the United States, and her son Deming, who is adopted by a white couple when Polly goes missing.
The Leavers was inspired by a 2009 New York Times story about an undocumented immigrant woman who was held, largely in solitary confinement, for more than a year and a half. Reviewing the book in The New York Times, Gish Jen said Ko's book "has taken the headlines and reminded us that beyond them lie messy, brave, extraordinary, ordinary lives."
Ko lives in Brooklyn, New York.
- Hong, Terry (May 2, 2017). "'The Leavers,' inspired by a real story, confronts transracial adoption". Christian Science Monitor. ISSN 0882-7729. Retrieved August 31, 2017.
- Hung, Melissa (May 1, 2017). "'The Leavers' novelist Lisa Ko found success through massive failure". NBC News. Retrieved August 28, 2017.
- Hung, Melissa (May 28, 2017). "Interview with "The Leavers" Author Lisa Ko". Hyphen Magazine. Retrieved August 31, 2017.
- "THE LEAVERS by Lisa Ko". Kirkus Books. January 23, 2017. Retrieved August 31, 2017.
- Cha, Steph (June 8, 2017). "The immigrant novel, 2017: Lisa Ko's 'The Leavers' shines a light on ugly truths". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved August 28, 2017.
- Miller, Stuart (May 12, 2017). "Lisa Ko Talks Immigration, Fractured Families and The Leavers". Paste Magazine. Retrieved August 31, 2017.
- Weiss-Meyer, Amy (May 14, 2017). "'The Leavers' Is a Wrenching Tale of Parenthood". The Atlantic. Retrieved August 28, 2017.
- Jen, Gish (May 16, 2017). "Migration, a Makeshift Family, and Then a Disappearance". The New York Times. Retrieved August 28, 2017.
- "2017 National Book Award finalists revealed". CBS News. October 4, 2017. Retrieved October 4, 2017.