What’s playing on the iPod right now? BLUE by The Jayhawks
February 2009 Costco Pennie’s Pick
An IndieBound NEXT List selection for February
Borders Original Voices Pick
Pulpwood Queens Bonus Book Pick
Barnes & Noble March New Reads Book Club Pick
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.
"Mesmerizing and evocative, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet is a tale of conflicted loyalties, devotion, as well as a vibrant portrait of Seattle's Nihonmachi district in its heyday."
–Sara Gruen, New York Times Bestselling author of Water for Elephants
“Jamie Ford's first novel explores the age-old conflicts between father and son, the beauty and sadness of what happened to Japanese Americans in the Seattle area during World War II, and the depths and longing of deep-heart love. An impressive, bitter, and sweet debut.” – Lisa See, bestselling author of Snow Flower And The Secret Fan
"A tender and satisfying novel set in a time and a place lost forever, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet gives us a glimpse of the damage that is caused by war--not the sweeping damage of the battlefield, but the cold, cruel damage to the hearts and humanity of individual people. Especially relevant in today's world, this is a beautifully written book that will make you think. And, more importantly, it will make you feel."
--Garth Stein, New York Times bestselling author of The Art of Racing in the Rain
The Panama Hotel
Several years ago, the owner of the Panama Hotel did discover the belongings of Japanese interned families in the basement. Jamie read about this discovery and it became the starting framework for his novel. Jamie's father had also related a story of his wearing an “I Am Chinese” button right after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, a historically accurate tidbit that plays a key role in HOTEL ON THE CORNER OF BITTER AND SWEET.
Here is Jamie in front of the hotel. The next pic is the view of the basement through the floor boards. The other shot is taken in the basement where the belongings remain—mostly undisturbed.
An Interview with Jamie Ford where he discusses the writing of HOTEL:
A walking tour of Seattle narrated by Jamie. In this video clip, Jamie explores the history of all the real places mentioned in HOTEL:
But despite all the historical places and historical accuracies, the story of Henry and Keiko existed only in Jamie’s mind and now on the pages of his novel. HOTEL is a work of fiction.
As you can probably tell, I think this novel is a wonderful and amazing read. I encourage you to pick up a copy and immerse yourself in Henry & Keiko’s story.