Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet

  • by Jamie Ford
  • Narrated by Feodor Chin
  • 10 hrs and 51 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

In the opening pages of Jamie Ford's stunning debut, 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 the 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.This simple act takes old Henry Lee back to the 1940s, at the height of the war, when young Henry's world is a jumble of confusion and excitement, and to his father, who is obsessed with the war in China and having Henry grow up American. While scholarshipping at the exclusive Rainier Elementary, 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 are left only with the hope that the war will end, and that their promise to each other will be kept.Forty years later, Henry Lee is certain that the parasol belonged to Keiko. In the hotel's dark dusty basement he begins looking for signs of the Okabe family's belongings and for a long-lost object whose value he cannot begin to measure. 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.

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What the Critics Say

"A tender and satisfying work 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 best-selling author of The Art of Racing in the Rain)
"Jamie Ford's first title 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, best-selling author of Snow Flower and the Secret Fan)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Hotel on the corner of bitter and sweet

superb writing! this story kept me listening far beyond my daily normal fill of audio books.
I felt the story was a little slow to start but after the story is established you WILL be hooked!
Excellent narration and fine details to the era of potrayal.
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- Christopher

Wow! What a book! What a narrator!!

This was one of the best books I've heard since The History of Love. The narration was spot on (except for perhaps when speaking a couple of the Japanese phrases, but this may have been intentional). Feodor Chin's ability to vary his voice across the years and for each of the characters, not only in tone and accent, but in the more subtle matters of "how" something would be said, made listening to this book a rare pleasure. Jamie Ford's writing is crisp, engaging, and insightful. It allows the listener/reader into a world seldom seen by outsiders, and events of our nation's history that are still rarely spoken about. The diverse cast of characters is three-dimensional and believable, and Ford skillfully avoids stereotypical portrayals and easy solutions to diffucult issues. The book is already on order to join my hardback collection, but I will keep the audiofiles with the very short lists of books worth another listen.
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- Bev S. Weiler

Book Details

  • Release Date: 01-27-2009
  • Publisher: Random House Audio