Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Wednesday's special is...Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet
by Jamie Ford

Jamie Ford is the great-grandson of Nevada mining pioneer Min Chung, who emigrated from Kaiping, China, to San Francisco in 1865, where he adopted the Western name “Ford,” thus confusing countless generations. Ford is an alumnus of the Squaw Valley Community of Writers, and a survivor of Orson Scott Card’s Literary Boot Camp. Having grown up near Seattle’s Chinatown, he now lives in Montana where he’s on a never-ending quest to find decent dim sum.

“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

Order Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet from Amazon

Visit Jamie Ford's website

Excerpt from Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet

Young Henry Lee stopped talking to his parents when he was twelve years old. Not because of some silly childhood tantrum, but because they asked him to. That was how it felt anyway. They asked—no, told—him to stop speaking their native Chinese. It was 1942, and they were desperate for him to learn English. Which only made Henry more confused when his father pinned a button to his school shirt that read, “I am Chinese.” The contrast seemed absurd. This makes no sense, he thought. My father’s pride has finally got the better of him.

“Wo bu dong?”Henry asked in perfect Cantonese. “I don’t understand.”

His father slapped his face. More of a light tap really, just something to get his attention. “No more. Only speak you American.” The words came out in Chinglish.

“I don’t understand,” Henry said in English.

“Hah?” his father asked.

“If I’m not supposed to speak Chinese, why do I need to wear this button?”

“Hah, you say?” His father turned to his mother, who was peeking out from the kitchen. She gave a look of confusion and simply shrugged, going back to her cooking, sweet water chestnut cake from the smell of it. His father turned to Henry again, giving him a backhanded wave, shooing him off to school.

Since Henry couldn’t ask in Cantonese and his parents barely understood English, he dropped the matter, grabbed his lunch and book bag, and headed down the stairs and out into the salty, fishy air of Seattle’s Chinatown.

Answer the following question for a chance to win a copy of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet – or just pop in for a chat with Jamie:

What’s another name for Zhōu Rùnfā? (no googling!)


Chris Eldin said...

Wow! This excerpt is awesome!!!

Good morning everyone!!! Welcome, welcome!

I read Dragon Wings about a year ago--about a mother and son who traveled from China to settle in California... I love books that blend two cultures into one story.

So happy to have this roast!

Karen Dionne said...

I just finished reading this book! It's amazing, and just gets better and better. Now I understand why booksellers are so excited! Congrats and kudos, Jamie!

Chris Eldin said...

Hi Karen,

Thanks for dropping by with such kind words---which I'm sure are deserved!!! I also can't wait to read this book. I read the query on Kristin's blog and fell in love with it.

Anonymous said...

Hey, I know this guy. ;)

Warmest gratulations, Jamie. Hotel is next on my reading list. It's been a pleasure to see you walking the path of success.

Charles Gramlich said...

Great title. I like this excerpt very much

Mary Cunningham said...

Wonderful excerpt, Jamie. The story sounds fascinating and your family story is amazing, too!

Congratulations on your success.

peggy said...

Congrats on this, the excerpt is great, makes me want to find out what happens for sure. I hope you sell a zillion :)

Maggie Stiefvater said...

I first saw this on Kristin's blog and thought the cover was gorgeous! I can't wait to read it, Jamie. The writing style in the excerpt made me even more eager.

Anonymous said...

I had no idea what another name for Zhōu Rùnfā was, so I cheated and googled. I couldn't even thing of anything funny!

Anyhow, I liked this excerpt and good luck Jamie.


moonrat said...

hey! what a coincidence! this is the book i brought to work with me today to read on the way home! i'm not reading any of the roast stuff here lest it contain spoilers but i'm REALLY excited!

Merry Monteleone said...

This has been on my "must get this book" list since I first saw it mentioned, and I think that was back when it was first picked up for publication - I read about it on Precie's blog, I think and also saw the mentions at Kristin's.

It looks fabulous. Many congratulations, Jamie!

I have no idea what Zhōu Rùnfā might be... a type of cake? (it was mentioned in the excerpt - no making fun of my limited Chinese knowledge)

Shona Snowden said...

Welcome Jamie and welcome all.

I remember Jamie's query from Kristen's blog, too. In fact, Jason, wasn't Jamie a winner of one of your Clarity of Night contests? No wonder you know him!

Zhōu Rùnfā... Hm. Maybe a few more guesses and then a clue?

Anonymous said...

Shona, you're correct!! Jamie won the first ever Clarity of Night contest called "Two Lights" back in 2006. He was the pioneer for Jaye Wells and Sarah Hina, both Clarity contest stars, who have subsequently hit the big time.

darbyscloset said...

Chow Yun-Fat is Zhōu Rùnfā .
Am I right?
I have been following this book around the internet for awhile now and would love to read it!!!
Thanks so much,
darbyscloset at yahoo dot com

Jamie Ford said...

Hey y'all!


Sorry I'm late to my own roast--had a bunch of book things to do. You know, clicking my amazon rankings a bazillion times, fretting about the next book, the usual. ;)

And yep, I was Jason's first winner...who knew?

Hope everyone enjoys the book.

Shona Snowden said...

I'm an Honorary Mention at one of Jason's contests (as my alter ego); I wonder if the magic dust flutters that far down the rankings...

Chumplet - Sandra Cormier said...

Oh, boy, oh boy, oh boy!!!!! I was so busy today I almost forgot to visit! Am I too late???

Um... I'm guessing the expression means, "I Am Chinese" since that was the original title of the short story Jamie wrote, from which sprang Hotel.

I'd LOVE to own an autographed copy from an author I admire and respect. Okay, I admire and respect ALL authors, but the ass-kissing is worth a shot.

Anonymous said...

Shona, it did for Jaye Wells. :) So you're golden.

Chumplet - Sandra Cormier said...

Don't close shop too early... I gave the gang over at AW a heads up.

Ray Wong said...

I can't wait to read the book!

Jamie Ford said...

There's still time...!

Chumplet - Sandra Cormier said...

I keep forgetting you're on the left side of the continent.

Chumplet - Sandra Cormier said...

My next door neighbours are Chinese. Their father lived there for a while, but he spoke no English. He would stand in the front yard, watching the trees grow.

I learned how to say "Good Morning" from my friend at work, and tried it.

He smiled and nodded.

Later, I picked raspberries across the street and got him to try some. After some hesitation, he tried one, and screwed up his face and shook his head.

He suddenly wasn't around any more. I'm guessing he passed away, but my neighbours don't talk much, so I don't know.

Chris Eldin said...

Thanks everyone for stopping by!!
Thank you very much, Jaime, for hanging out with us! And that is awesome about Jason's contest----I LOVE his contests and often see fantastic writing which I know will 'make' it!!!

Nobody answered the question, but please feel free to randomly choose anyone....

Thanks again, and bestest of wishes for great things for your book!!!

Shona Snowden said...

*stumbles in very late*

Is it over? Sorry for being such a dodgy hostess, work just kept on getting in the way!

I beg to differ with Chris...we did have answers...and if my googling is correct we even have a winner...I'll let Jamie confirm.

Thanks everyone for coming in and Jamie, congratulations on a fantastic book.

Jamie Ford said...

And the winner is...



Chris Eldin said...

hehehehe! YAY! A winner!!
Sorry I was reading all the other stuff---

Shona Snowden said...

Congrats darbyscloset! If you can contact Jamie via his web site (there's a contact form in the FAQ section) then he can send you your prize.

sexy said...