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Marion Cuba first learned about the Shanghai Ghetto nine years ago on a trip to China. Born Marion Liniado, she is half-Sephardic (Jews who fled the Spanish Inquisition to such countries as Turkey, Iraq, and Syria). On a ferry bound for Hong Kong, she overheard a conversation about a man named Kadoorie—a name she recognized as Sephardic—who had lived in Shanghai with several other families during World War II. She was fascinated, and did further research upon returning home.

"What ignited me," says Cuba, "was the fateful reason that these 20,000 people happened to be given refuge in this unlikely place." With Hitler having announced the Jews stateless, there was this one haven that would take them without a visa. "I knew I had to explore this in a novel."

Shanghai Legacy was a finalist for the 2007 Benjamin Franklin Awards
Among the former Shanghai refugees interviewed for the book was one woman who left at the age of seventeen and is now seventy-four. Many of those who shared this ghetto experience are now beginning to grow old and die: just another reason the author felt this story must be told.

Cuba worked as a writer in advertising, promotion, and nonprofit fundraising. She served as editor of the New York Chapter Hadassah Newsletter. And, for many years, she was an Adult Literacy Tutor. She attended Brandeis University and the University of Michigan, earning a degree in English Literature.

Like Maya in Shanghai Legacy, Cuba sculpts and, in addition to writing fiction and poetry, designs jewelry.