Joy Kogawa was born in Vancouver in 1935. As a young child, she and her family were forced to leave their home in the Marpole neighbourhood and move to the Slocan internment camp in the interior of British Columbia. Her family’s experience of the forced uprooting of Japanese Canadians later inspired her 1981 novel, Obasan. Kogawa was active in the fight for redress from the Canadian government in the 1980s, both through her direct activism and the impact of her novel on Canadians of Japanese and non-Japanese descent.
The author of several books of poetry, four novels, and two children’s books, Kogawa also published a memoir, Gently to Nagasaki, in 2016. In 1986, she was made a Member of the Order of Canada, and has since received the Order of British Columbia and the Order of the Rising Sun, an honour from the Japanese government for her contribution to the understanding of Japanese Canadian history. She currently lives in Toronto.