A Chinese American boy’s friendship and first love with a Japanese American girl during the fear, evacuation, and internment of Japanese Americans during World War II is at the center of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet. Alternating between the 1940s and 1986, Jamie Ford captures time and place, especially Chinatown, Japantown, and the city’s jazz scene during the war years. This gentle love story of Henry Lee and Keiko Okabe reminds us of a shameful time in U.S. history, both at the time it occurred and during its lingering aftermath.
The old Seattle landmark [the Panama Hotel] was a place he’d visited twice in his lifetime. First when he was only twelve years old, way back in 1942 – ‘the war years’ he liked to call them. Even then the old bachelor hotel had stood as a gateway between Seattle’s Chinatown and Nihonmachi, Japantown. Two outposts of old-world conflict – where Chinese and Japanese immigrants rarely spoke to one another, while their American-born children often played kick the can in the streets together. The hotel had always been a perfect landmark. A perfect meeting place – where he’d once met the love of his life. – from Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, by Jamie Ford
Jamie Ford’s Website
The Panama Hotel, Seattle, Washington
The Wing Luke Asian Museum, Seattle, Washington
Minidoka National Historic Site, Idaho (Internment Camp)