A unique meeting between the authors of two moving books based on their mothers’ contrasting experiences of the Japanese occupation of Shanghai. Betty Barr will discuss Ruth’s Record, an annotated version of her American mother’s wartime diary, which provides a gripping account of life in Lunghua internment camp. Keiko Itoh’s My Shanghai 1942-46 is a sensitively-observed, fictionalised account of her Christian Japanese mother’s struggle to come to terms with her privileged position in a city at war, and the growing conflict between her loyalty to her country and her own values. Moderated by Duncan Hewitt.
Taras Grescoe’s Shanghai Grand brings back to life Shanghai’s International Settlement of the 1930s through the intertwining stories of three extraordinary people: Sir Victor Sassoon, the Sephardic Jewish multimillionaire who built a real-estate empire on the Huangpu mud, the globetrotting flapper Emily “Mickey” Hahn and her lover, Zau Sinmay, a decadent poet who introduced her to the city, opium and all the pleasures of the Orient. Grescoe will share the behind-the-scenes story of what it took to bring these remarkable characters back to life and how he tracked down their homes, haunts and surviving descendants in today’s megacity.
Amy’s friend and fellow writer Duncan Clark (Alibaba: the House that Jack Ma Built) will lead an intimate conversation with Amy on her family’s past in Shanghai and how it fuelled her imagination–from a legacy of suicide, her parent’s love affair and a shocking photo that turned family history into myth. This will be followed by a lively update on the writer’s current life and what feeds her imagination and stories today, including sketching, sharks and emails with her editor.