Friday, February 4, 2011
Review of Posted in Colombo by Shizue Tomoda
Title: Posted in Colombo: A Glance at Toiling Women and the Indian Tamils of Sri Lanka
Author: Shizue Tomoda
Shizue Tomoda enjoys traveling to foreign countries and she’s gone on several missions to a few countries through positions with the International Labour Organization (ILO). After more than six years being comfortable living and working in Geneva, she craves another field assignment. Official word of placement in Colombo, Sri Lanka finally arrives and Shizue has three-and-a-half months to tie up all loose ends of her current life and relocate to a new country to start a new life and job. The opportunity has been a long time in coming and Shizue is excited.
Posted in Colombo is an engaging memoir that shares details of the civil war and the ethnic makeup in Sri Lanka. Written by a former director of ILO’s Colombo, Sri Lanka office, Posted in Colombo gives a front row experience of a living in a foreign country where suicide bombers, shootings, and death are a regular occurrence. The author brings you to the bombed streets and neighborhoods, introduces you to female migrant workers, mostly housemaids, who yearn to improve their standing in society, and allows you a glimpse into her passion for bringing light and hope to women who have only experienced darkness and despair.
The author’s writing style is direct, detailed, yet personal. She weaves real world events with her personal reactions in a conversational way. Her attention to detail and being able to weave memories and description together caught me on the first page, starting with an A4-size brown envelope. Tomoda’s passion for helping empower women so they can take greater roles in society is at the core of the book, yet it is balanced with her activities outside of the office and with examples of what is happening in the world at that time. The writing transports the reader to a different time and place with honesty and grace.
Shizue Tomoda was born in Japan and educated there and in the United States. She had a twenty-five year career with a United Nations agency promoting international labor standards. Her other books include Sachiko, a novel based on her upbringing in post-war Japan and her new life and coming-of-age in the States, and Taro and Tomi: My Feline Son and Daughter, a memoir about her and her two adopted cats. The author currently lives in France on the Swiss border near Geneva where she pursues her creative writing interests.
The illustrations by Edwin Batawala included in the book balance the narrative with a personal voice and attention to detail that is similar to the author’s. Shizue Tomoda’s memoir Posted in Colombo is a highly recommended read. Reviewer: Lisa Haselton, Allbooks Reviews.