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Sally Ito on The Emperor's Orphans and Family History

In The Emperor's Orphans, poet and translator Sally Ito tells the story of her own family's history in Japan and Canada, and the wider story of Japanese-Canadians being "repatriated" to Japan during World War Two. In this list, she shares other stories of family history that inspired her on her writing journey. 

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October is Family History Month, which makes for a perfect month to be launching my new book of creative nonfiction, The Emperor’s Orphans, about my family’s history in Canada and Japan. When I sat down to write this book, I initially thought I was writing about my family but it turned out my family was writing about (or to) me—either through the story-telling voice of my Nisei great Aunty Kay or the fastidious pen-wielding scribe of my Japanese grandfather, Toshiro Saito. These “ancestors” from the past shaped the writer-me into existence, leading me to discover who I am as a Japanese Canadian woman. 

There are some great creative nonfiction titles I read along the journey of writing this book that are listed below. Hope you find them and be inspired as I was by them. 

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