Growing up in a largely white community, National Book Award finalist Lisa Ko listened eagerly to her parents’ family stories, but couldn’t find Asian or Asian-American protagonists in the books she devoured. “It’s that younger me,” she says, “hungry and breathless to see herself on the page, that I write for today.” As the first-generation daughter of Chinese immigrants from the Philippines, Ko was, in her own words, “a good observer and a better spy.” That capacity for discerning details and illuminating subtleties is on full display in her debut novel, The Leavers, a finalist for the 2017 National Book Award for Fiction and winner of the 2017 PEN/Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction. In a compelling, complex novel crackling with narrative tension, Ko offers “a fresh and moving look at the immigrant experience in America” (Publishers Weekly). Like Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americanah and Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch, The Leavers boldly foregrounds issues of race, belonging, and identity without sacrificing the raw power of a good story. Ko’s expertly crafted characters will haunt you long after the cover is closed. The free, public program begins at 6:00 p.m. at Burns Belfry.