Pub Rants

Happy Launch Day Jamie!

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STATUS: Very excited for this book to hit shelves today.

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.


25 Responses

  1. Merrie Destefano said:

    This sounds like a fascinating book–I love the historic angle. Part of it reminds me of “Snow Falling on Cedars” and part of it reminds me of the Harada House Museum in Riverside, California.

    Great job, Kristin and Jamie! I wish you both the best.

  2. AC said:

    It looks like one of those books I’d want to read after I’d curled up in my favorite chair and dropped everything else–definitely a full immersion story. It looks lovely.

  3. L.C. Gant said:

    This book has been stuck in my mind ever since you posted Jamie’s query letter. I can’t wait to read it. I hope it does well. It looks like a wonderful story!

  4. Parker Haynes said:

    Hearty congratulations to you both!

    I’ve been fascinated with this story since Kristen posted Jamie’s query letter.

    Time to stretch the budget a bit.

  5. Rebecca Chastain said:

    We’re excited about Jamie Ford’s book over at, too–we’ll be posting an interview with Mr. Ford on Monday, February 2. Come by to read more about how he got published and what he’s working on now.

  6. DebraLSchubert said:

    One can’t help but be reminded of the Jews in the Holocaust as they were herded on to trains bound for “work camps.” What a travesty that this took place so recently on American soil.

    Jamie’s calm and unemotional voice adds a haunting beauty to the story he tells. Congrats to you Kristin for spotting this poignant story, and to you Jamie for writing it.

  7. Solvang Sherrie said:

    I remember hearing about this book, probably from your blog. It looks like a fabulous story. I can’t wait to read it. And I love the videos. Much better than some of the cheesy book trailers I’ve seen. Thanks for getting this story out there.

  8. Anonymous said:

    Hi Kristin,
    I discovered your blog via your agencies’s site, which I found through Your site is wonderful! It’s full of helpful advice, is easy to navigate and I think it’s fabulous you only accept queries via email.
    This book looks like one i’d really enjoy. Historical fiction is one of my favorite genres besides autobiography.
    Have a gorgeous day!
    Heather @

  9. s.w. vaughn said:

    Jamie! You’re a guy! And all this time reading your posts on AW, I thought you were a woman. 🙂

    Forgive me. My sister’s name is Jamie, so I have a tendency to assume.

    Huge mega-congrats on your release day! Can’t wait to read this one.

  10. Jamie Ford said:

    For now anyway. Who knows, if the book sells well I might be able to afford a certain elective surgical procedure… 🙂

    Thanks y’all.


  11. Sherry Thomas said:

    Got mine today from Costco. It had a paper ribbon wrapped around it which says

    “…an unforgettable debut novel that transports readers effortlessly to 1940s Seattle where the city’s jazz scene is blossoming, and the once compatible Japanese and Chinese communities are now at odds. Examining the complex and timeless struggles of friendships, a father-son relationship and true love, this is a complete novel that will not disappoint.”

    –Pennie Clark Ianniciello, Costco Book Buyer

    Now I’ve been shopping at Costco for years but this paper ribbon thing I have never noticed before. Congrats Jamie.

  12. Lauren said:

    Hi Jamie!

    I got my copy from Amazon yesterday or the day before (it was in my mailbox at work and I just noticed it yesterday)- I am really enjoying your book so far :). As someone who lives in Seattle, it adds an extra layer of my excitement. I’m only a few pages in but I can’t wait to see if Henry and Keiko find each other again.

  13. Anonymous said:

    I read the book, and it was not disappointing. Like the cover, it is both bitter and sweet.A very well written story, I highly recommend it.

  14. Anonymous said:

    I just recently read this book, it was very good,I highly recommend it. The story is like it’s cover, bitter and sweet.