Joy Kogawa in front of her former childhood home, which won a last-minute reprieve from demolition. (Courtesy Land Conservancy of B.C.)

Author Joy Kogawa's childhood home in Vancouver has received a last-minute reprieve.

The modest home in the South Vancouver neighbourhood of Marpole, which figured prominently in her novel Obasan, was to be knocked down by a developer who planned to build condominiums on the land.

A campaign led by the Land Conservancy of British Columbia was seeking $700,000 to buy the house from the developer but it has raised only $230,000. Nonetheless, the Land Conservancy announced on Friday that it will buy the home.

"We're exercising our option and buying it in spite of the fact that we haven't yet raised all of the money," Bill Turner, executive director of the Land Conservancy, told CBC Radio.

"We'll have to continue to fundraise after the fact but by doing so we're taking control of the house. It will not now be demolished." 

The city of Vancouver had given the group until April 30 to attempt to save the house. After that, it would issue a demolition permit.

The agency needs to raise the full cost of the purchase by August or it will face a difficult decision over the house.

"We can't see this house demolished. In the absolute worst case we'd have to sell it," Turner said.

The agency has applied to the city, province and federal government in its campaign to preserve a piece of Vancouver's heritage. It is also soliciting private donations to renovate the home and turn it into a writers' retreat and educational centre for human rights issues. The full cost of buying and restoring the house is estimated at $1.2 million.

"Words can't express how much this means. This is definitely a miracle," Kogawa said in a statement, after learning the house had been saved.

Obasan and Kogawa's children's book Naomi's Road tell the story of the internment of Japanese Canadians during the Second World War.