Photo: Shane Lin


Keiko Itoh is a Japanese-born writer and interpreter, who lives in London. She spent five years of her early childhood in New York, and left Japan again after graduating from the Sacred Heart High School at Obayashi, Hyogo Prefecture, to pursue higher education in the United States. She received her BA from Swarthmore College, and MA from Yale University, and worked as an international civil servant, first at the United Nations in New York, and then at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the World Bank in London. In mid-career, she decided to go back to university to fulfill her long held desire to research the historical context of her unusually international family.

Itoh’s first book, The Japanese Community in Pre-war Britain: From Integration to Disintegration (Curzon Press, 2001), based on her London School of Economics PhD dissertation, is a social history of the small Japanese community in London in the 1920s and 30s, to which her grandfather and mother belonged.

My Shanghai, 1942-1946 is Itoh’s first novel, and is a fictional account based on her mother’s experience. As a child, Itoh often heard her mother talk about Shanghai, and was given the impression that Shanghai was a fun, fascinating place. It was only when she grew up that Itoh realized her mother’s time in Shanghai had been during the Second World War. Life could not have been so rosy, yet to her mother, the place had remained magical. Itoh wanted to find out why, and My Shanghai, 1942-1946 is the result of her quest.

Itoh is married to an Englishman and has two grown daughters.