Swampscott author shines light on Midnight

Pamela Rotner Sakamoto.

BY MICHELE DURGIN

SWAMPSCOTT — The Swampscott Public Library will host local author Pamela Rotner Sakamoto tonight at 7.

The 54-year-old town resident has published “Midnight in Broad Daylight,” a true story of a Japanese American family that found itself on opposite sides during World War II. The epic tale of family, separation, divided loyalties, love, reconciliation, loss and redemption is a riveting chronicle of U.S.-Japan relations, according to Amazon.

A review in The New York Times praised the book as providing a fascinating closeup of the travails of wartime life in an increasingly fascistic Japan. Sakamoto’s accounts of the extreme brutality of Japanese schools, and the omnipresent thought police, called kempeitai, are eye-­openers, the review added.

Rotner Sakamoto, a 1980 graduate of Swampscott High School, lives in Hawaii, where she teaches social studies at Punahou High School.

“This book has taken me to archives and interviews in Japan, Seattle and Los Angeles, and I couldn’t be happier that it is now in the hands of the readers,” she said.

Her parents said they are happy their daughter is coming for a visit and looking forward to spending time with her.

“She hasn’t been here in two years, so you can imagine how excited we are to see her,” said Sandy Rotner, her mother.

Sakamoto is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Amherst College and holds a Ph.D. from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University.

Her first book, Japanese Diplomats and Jewish Refugees: A World War II Dilemma,” was published in 1998.

Sakamoto, who is fluent in Japanese, said she is anxious to promote her book at events on the North Shore.

“I’m really looking forward to discussing the book with readers, and my hope is that they see it as a cautionary tale about the perils and costs of wartime hysteria, racial prejudice and internment,” she said. “It’s a timeless tale that is deeply relevant today.”

Susan Conner, the library’s assistant director, said patrons are excited about her visit.

“We always enjoy bringing authors to the library as guest speakers, but this one is extra special because of her connection to Swampscott,” she said. “We are excited to welcome her.”

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