Listen: Author Keiko Itoh '74 Discusses Her Novel, Set in Japanese-Occupied Shanghai
This fall, author Keiko Itoh '74 returned to campus for the first time in 40 years to discuss "Japanese-Occupied Shanghai, 1942-1946: The Making of a Novel." Itoh also reflects fondly on her time at Swarthmore, saying the College provided her with the "education of a lifetime."
Itoh's novel, My Shanghai, 1942-1946 (University of Hawai'i Press, 2015), recounts the war experiences of a young, London-educated Japanese housewife in Japanese-occupied Shanghai. Although written as fiction, the book is based on historical research on the Pacific War, with a significant portion relating the activities of the Quakers in Shanghai. Itoh's book is also partly inspired by her mother’s own war experiences in occupied China.
Itoh, a London-based writer and interpreter, was born in Kobe, Japan. She graduated from Swarthmore with a B.A. in history and later earned an M.A. from Yale University. She worked at the United Nations in N.Y., and then at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the World Bank in London. In mid-career, she returned to university to research the historical context of her "unusually international" family. Her first book, The Japanese Community in Pre-war Britain: From Integration to Disintegration (2001), based on her London School of Economics Ph.D. dissertation, is a social history of the Japanese community in London to which her grandfather and mother belonged.