STATUS: I need a quiet day to read. And just read.
What’s playing on the iPod right now? MOTHER AND CHILD REUNION by Paul Simon
As promised, the general bones of my letter to the editors regarding Jamie Ford’s project. Jane von Mehren at Random House won the auction so I put her name in the salutation.
I actually had a meeting with Jane earlier this summer where I mentioned this project. She was great about emailing me every few weeks just to get an update on when I was submitting it.
She loves this novel, and we are thrilled to work with her on it.
This novel my book club needs to read right now—who cares about publication. I started HOTEL ON THE CORNER OF BITTER AND SWEET at 9 p.m. on a Monday night. I thought I would give it a quick look because I knew the author already had an agent offer on the table. I figured I would know within the first 50 pages whether it was right for me. Well, after 10 pages, I realized that I had to tell myself to breathe. There were sections that literally had my heart racing and I needed to skip to end of the chapter just to discover what happens. Then I would go back and read what I had missed, my heart still pounding.
And if you don’t feel this same way as the story unfolds, you’ll know this manuscript is not the right one for you.
HOTEL ON THE CORNER OF BITTER AND SWEET is the story of Henry Lee, a Chinese boy in Seattle who falls in love (although it is forbidden) with a Japanese girl named Keiko right after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. It is also the story of Henry Lee as a middle-aged man forty years later who, when passing by Seattle’s old Japantown’s Panama Hotel, stumbles into a news conference on the hotel steps where the new owner has discovered in the basement the untouched belongings of thirty interned Japanese families. When the owner unfolds, for the news cameras, a Japanese bamboo parasol with a bright orange koi painted on it, Henry instantly recognizes it as Keiko’s. In that moment, he can no longer suppress his familiar and never forgotten longing and he must confront the memories and the choices he did or did not make all those years ago.
Growing up near Seattle’s Chinatown, the author Jamie Ford was called “Ja Mei” by his Chinese relatives—which quickly became “Jamie” to the rest of the world. He is also an alumnus of the Squaw Valley Community of Writers and a survivor of Orson Scott Card's Literary Bootcamp. In 2006 he took First Place in the Clarity of Night “Twin Lights” Fiction Contest, and his short-story, “I am Chinese” was a Top 25 Finalist in Glimmer Train’s 2006 Short-Story Award for New Writers. He is currently an advertising creative director and HOTEL ON THE CORNER OF BITTER AND SWEET is his debut novel.
This is an unforgettable story about fathers and sons. About love and the choices we make that can forever change our lives.
I can’t wait to have someone else to talk to about this novel.