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Joy Nozomi Kogawa (nee Nakayama) was born in Vancouver, British Columbia in 1935 to Japanese Canadian parents, Gordon Goichi Nakayama and Lois Masui Nakayama. In addition to the honorary degrees she received from Ryerson Polytechnical Institute and the University of Lethbridge in 1991, Kogawa has been granted degrees from Simon Fraser University, Laurentian University, and the University of British Columbia. She won many awards for Obasan including the Books in Canada First Novel Award, Canadian Authors Fiction Award, and the Notable Book Award by American Library Association. She also published a children' s book based on Obasan, Naomi's Road, in 1986, which was later adapted for a play . She was awarded the Order of Canada in 1986.