Leslie Shimotakahara

Leslie Shimotakahara's memoir, The Reading List, won the Canada-Japan Literary Prize in 2012, and her fiction has been shortlisted for the KM Hunter Artist Award. She has written two critically acclaimed novels, After the Bloom and Red Oblivion. In February/March 2024, her new novel, Sisters of the Spruce, will be available in bookstores.

These novels blur between fiction and non-fiction. After the Bloom draws upon her paternal grandmother's teenage experience of the Japanese-American Internment, during the Second World War. It was commended by Booklist as "personal and entrancing, unflinchingly shining a light on this difficult part of history," and it was chosen as Bustle's #1 choice in "50 Books To Read With Your Book Club." Her second novel, Red Oblivion, is a literary thriller set in Hong Kong, inspired by the time she spent living there with her Chinese-Canadian husband and his elderly father. Red Oblivion was included in the 49th Shelf's "Great Books for the Moment," and praised by Kirkus Review for showing "virtuosity in this subtle deconstruction of one family's tainted origins." Her forthcoming novel, Sisters of the Spruce, is an enthralling story of female friendship and adventure, set in a logging camp on Haida Gwaii, where her maternal grandmother lived in the early twentieth century.

In 2018, Leslie served on the jury for the Governor General's Non-fiction Award. Her writing has appeared in the National Post, World Literature Today, and Changing the Face of Canadian Literature, among other anthologies and periodicals.

She has a PhD in English from Brown University, where she wrote her dissertation on the relationship between American regionalism and modernism in the fiction of Edith Wharton, Willa Cather, William Faulkner, and Ralph Ellison. 

Over the years, Leslie has lived in a variety of places including Trinidad, Toronto, Montreal, Providence, Berlin, Antigonish, and Hong Kong. These days, she and Chris Wong make their home in the Brockton Village neighbourhood of Toronto.