Pub Rants

A Very Nice Literary Agent Indulges in Polite Rants About Queries, Writers, and the Publishing Industry

Mark The Date: January 27, 2009

STATUS: Doesn’t feel like TGIF because I have to work this weekend to be ready to leave town next Wed. for Maui Writers Conference. Yep, I’m grumbling.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? PLENTY by Sarah McLachlan

That is when HOTEL ON THE CORNER OF BITTER AND SWEET will release. Click here to pre-order (all of you who have been dying for this title’s release).

And just look at this gorgeous cover.

Hardcover Flap Copy:
In the opening pages of Jamie Ford’s stunning debut novel, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, Henry Lee comes upon a crowd gathered outside the Panama Hotel, once the gateway to Seattle’s Japantown. It has been boarded up for decades, but now there is activity and life—a new owner has made an incredible discovery: the belongings of Japanese families, left when they were rounded up and sent to internment camps during World War II. As Henry looks on, the owner opens a Japanese parasol.

The act takes old Henry Lee back to the 1940s, at the height of the war, when young Henry Lee’s world is a jumble of confusion and excitement—his father is obsessed with the war in China and having Henry grow up American. While “scholarshipping” at the exclusive Ranier Academy, where the white kids ignore him, Henry meets Keiko Okabe, a young Japanese-American student. Amid the chaos of blackouts, curfews, and FBI raids, Henry and Keiko forge a bond of friendship—and innocent love—that transcends the long-standing prejudices of their Old World ancestors. And after Keiko and her family are swept up in the evacuations to the internment camps, she and Henry hold on to hope—that the war will end, that their promise to each other will be kept.

Forty years later, Henry Lee is certain that the parasol belonged to Keiko. In the dark dusty basement he begins looking for signs of the Okabe family’s belongings and a long-lost object whose value he cannot begin to describe. Now a widower, Henry is still trying to find his voice—words that might explain the actions of his nationalistic father; words that might bridge the gap between him and his modern, Chinese American son; words that might help him confront the choices he made many years ago.


Set during one of the most conflicted and volatile times in American history, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet is an extraordinary story of commitment and enduring hope set against the racism and misunderstandings that arise between different cultures and generations. In Henry and Keiko, Jamie Ford has created an unforgettable duo whose story teaches us of the power of forgiveness and the human heart.

I also have a favor. Earlier this week, somebody from the Book Group Expo left a comment saying they had read an ARE (which was super exciting) but because it was linked to some earlier entry relating to Jamie, I can’t find it now. If you are that Book Group Expo person, please post again as it was a lovely comment and Jamie and I want to show some BGE appreciation!


19 Responses

  1. Susan said:

    I’ve been living with chilly rain for seven weeks in the North Atlantic, and you’re grumbling about working before MAUI.

    OK.

    I want the book; the story sounds wonderful but the cover really does make it irresistible. How do authors get so lucky to have a really wonderful cover? Is there a secret to it, is it luck, or does it cost a fortune in chocolates?

  2. Kim Kasch said:

    OKay, no sympathy here – you’re heading to Maui 🙁 too bad, so sad – NOT!

    But the cover is beautiful.

    I’m in Portland, Oregon, where the last couple days it was raining – in the summer 🙁

  3. Sheryl Tuttle said:

    I enjoy reading your blog. Someday I hope to make the Maui Writers Conference, but first I have to get serious with my writing (and find the time).

    The cover for Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet IS gorgeous! And I like the name of the book. And the hardcover flap copy sounds interesting. This book will definately have to go into my “to read” bookshelf. Thanks.

  4. Kristin said:

    What I want to know is…how did Jamie get such a quick release date??? It always seems people are talking about how publishers are buying for 2 years down the road. Didn’t you just sign Jamie less than a year ago?

    Just curious how you managed to get him a contract with a January 2009 release?!

    The cover is BEAUTIFUL. I would pick this up in a heartbeat even if I didn’t know what it was about. Sure to be a great seller. Congratulations, Jamie!!!!!

  5. Arovell said:

    I have to find time to read this one. I am helplessly fascinated by all things Japanese, and I’ve come across fictional and historical glimpses Japanese-American and Chinese-American cultures before and enjoyed them.

    So I’m sold! ^.^

  6. Jen said:

    Longtime reader/lurker with my first comment to say:

    This is a book I have been waiting for since I first heard about it. The cover is absolutely stunning.

    My calendar is marked!

  7. cindy said:

    definitely congrats to jamie! can’t wait to read it!

    i can’t speak for jamie but i too am on the “fast” track to publication. (within a year of signing for summer 09.) it wasn’t up to me, it was up to my editor. i suspect this is usually the case.

  8. EilisFlynn said:

    There is a Panama Hotel actually, and the owner conducts tours of the old Japanese baths section underneath the hotel that were very popular way back when. Worth a look if you’re ever in Seattle. My sister, who teaches Japanese at a local college, takes her students every year.

  9. AstonWest said:

    My guess on quick turnaround times is that publishers realized they needed to be able to make a return on their investment faster (through sales). With the amount of electronic capability (for proofs, etc.) available now compared to the past, it doesn’t make any sense for a publisher to take years to get a book to market.

  10. Amber said:

    I’m on the opposite end from those above with our dry heat in the 109 degree range.

    Ah, Maui. One day.

    Kristin, make sure you have a drik for us staying home 🙂

    I love the cover, and the blurb makes my mouth water in anticipation.

  11. Chumplet said:

    As always, I wait impatiently for book releases from my AW and blog buddies. You can be sure I’ll be one of the first to get Jamie’s book.

    If you see Pat Wood in Maui, tell her I said Hi.

  12. Ginger said:

    Sorry, not interested in the book. Sounds a bit sappy and not much in the way of action. But that’s just me. When’s Demon’s Lexicon coming out???? Now there’s something I’d love to read RIGHT NOW. The thing w/ YA is that there’s nothing heavy that will get in the way of the story–like sex, nudity, foul language and, um, sex. Good stuff that YA.
    I live in Santa Monica, CA, ( a skip away from the beach 🙂 ] so our weather is PARADISIACAL all year around. (Eat your heart out, Oregon.) Have fun in Maui.

  13. Jamie Ford said:

    Thanks y’all–here’s hoping you love the book.

    I actually signed the deal in 2007, so it’ll have been a bit longer than a year–18 months I think, but it’s whizzed by…

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