Praise for The Reading List, winner of the Canada-Japan Literary Prize:
"An engrossing and charming memoir about getting back to basics: home truths, family, and the life-altering, life-saving power of books." Emma Donoghue, author of Room
"The Reading List brims with frankness, provocative wit and acute insights into our hearts and psyches. A journey into the dark night of the soul and into the light of love and reconciliation, it proclaims its relevance in myriad ways. It celebrates the power of that literature to illuminate our inner lives and crystallize our desires." Kerri Sakamoto, author of One Hundred Million Hearts
"I've read a lot of good memoirs, but it's a rare talent that can weave together so many threads -- family, love, literature, career angst -- so effortlessly as Leslie does in The Reading List."
Micah Toub, author of Growing Up Jung
"The Reading List offers an exciting hybrid of memoir, family and national history, and literary criticism. Told in an energetic style and with almost shameless frankness and vulnerability, Shimotakahara exposes her passion for reading Western novels while experiencing disastrous love affairs and a more disastrous academic career, even as she attempts to reconnect with her demanding Japanese Canadian parents and their hidden family secrets. At times eloquent, moving, shocking, laugh out loud funny, even charmingly awkward, The Reading List is an ambitious and noteworthy debut by a brave young writer." Jury members for the 2012 Canada-Japan Literary Prize
Red Oblivion will be in stores in September 2019
"[F]lawlessly transitions between the two storylines.... As the story progresses you'll find yourself itching to keep reading, just as anxious as Rita to uncover the truth of her mother's past."
Praise for After the Bloom:
"Shimotakahara joins a rank of garlanded Canadian authors who've offered their skill and kindness to casual readers: tough stuff packaged in solid fiction that edifies as it enthrals, emotion indelible and set deep in stories we might otherwise prefer to forget." National Post
"[A] compelling work of historical fiction that scrutinizes how the experience and conditions of
internment had a shattering cultural effect on Japanese Americans. Shimotakahara’s writing is personal and entrancing, unflinchingly shining a light on this difficult part of history."
Booklist starred review
"A compelling tale of hearts and minds caught in the tumult of history, memory and love, across generations. A sweeping page-turner." Kerri Sakamoto, author of Floating City
"A masterful and deeply moving tale of mothers and daughters, of hidden histories and repressed memories, of loss and of love, After the Bloom is a potent reminder of the legacy of the internment and the power of reclaiming the past." Lynne Kutsukake, author of The Translation of Love
"After the Bloom offers characters of exacting specificity, ones who destroy pat generalizations and reveal the particular people, families, and faces that were stereotyped, amassed, depersonalized, and sometimes destroyed by this oft-overlooked moment in history. Lily's disappearance opens the ruptures—literal and metaphorical—that occur as part of intergenerational trauma in a story that offers its own brutal, beautiful reparation." Foreword Reviews
"Awareness of this novel's topic is necessary for anyone living in today's world. After the Bloom presents an affecting inside view of what Japanese-Americans endured, both within the camps and afterward." Historical Novels Review
"Shimotakahara writes with refined sensitivity about the fragility of human nature, and how such vulnerability can transform into strength in the name of love." Ottawa Review of Books
"After the Bloom is deeply moving and enthralling with scenes that will remain with readers long after the ending. This book is just the beginning of a brilliant career for this captivating new voice."
Sonia Saikaley, author of A Samurai's Pink House