Ford, Jamie: The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet (2009)

Wow. Sad in a happy way this novel. I’ve read the Norwegian version of it. There are a couple of translation hiccups but the translator has done an excellent job.

People are strange and we have a dark side, a side we seldom like seen in the light of day. The treatment of Japanese-Americans during WWII illustrates this dark side of humanity. Letting ourselves be ruled by our fears is incredibly tempting. I cannot count the times I have allowed my own fears to rule my decisions.

The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet gives an excellent account of what it must have been like to be a child during this time. Henry (Chinese-American) has to watch his father be completely ruled by his old hatreds and fears of the Japanese. Seeing him forget that people who just happen to be of Japanese heritage are also Americans was difficult for Henry. Falling in love with Keiko and having to stand up to his father while 12/13 years old must have been horrifyingly difficult for a young boy. Yet Henry did.

Such courage.

The beauty of this novel lies in Ford’s touching depiction of a difficult subject. While the novel is fiction the internment was not. Panama Hotel is there and people were placed in camps with razor wire around them and soldiers pointing at the prisoners with armed weapons. This is also who we are.

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