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 a PhD in English from Brown University. Although Leslie wanted to be a writer since childhood, she ended up taking a slightly nerdy detour through the academic study of literature, writing her dissertation on the relationship between American regionalism and modernism in the fiction of Edith Wharton, Willa Cather, William Faulkner, and Ralph Ellison. She had a short-lived career as an English professor, before it became clear that what she really wanted to do was pursue her original passion, creative writing. Her debut novel After the Bloom, which draws upon her Japanese-American and Japanese-Canadian family history, received a starred review in Booklist, was praised by the National Post as a "deep and beautiful story," and appeared on Bustle's, Reading Group Choices' and the 49th Shelf's lists of spring/summer picks for 2017. In 2018, she served on the jury for the Governor General's Non-Fiction Award. Her next novel Red Oblivion, a literary thriller set in Hong Kong, will be published in September 2019. More about the novel can be found here.
Over the years, Leslie has lived in a variety of places including Trinidad, Toronto, Montreal, Providence, Berlin, Antigonish, and Hong Kong. These days, Leslie and her partner Chris Wong make their home in the Brockton Village neighbourhood of Toronto.