By: Jason Guo
On Wednesday Mar. 7 at 2:30 p.m., Bellevue College was hosted Jamie Ford, the author of “Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet.” This debut novel spent two years on the New York Times bestseller list. Available in 35 languages now, the book went on to win the Asian/Pacific Award for literature in 2010. It is also widely read, and even take part in some school’s programs where it is given as assignment for high school freshmen and ESL students. During his journey, he was invited to attend the Tehran Book Festival in Iran, which never happened to American authors before due to political issues between the two countries.
The book exposed a love story between a Chinese-American boy and Japanese-American girl who fell in love in a city in a period of American history where everyone thinks they weren’t alike, and where Seattle was a red line city for people with multicultural background. At that period, the two lovers were constantly bullied due to their Asian origin. On top of that, their parents’ disapproval and other difficulties get into the way and make the relationship impossible. As the book’s popularity increased, it was noted by the Seattle Times as “a wartime-era Chinese-Japanese variation on Romeo and Juliet.”
In an atmosphere of humor and enthusiasm, Ford talked about the multiple reasons behind choosing the theme of assimilation. His primary objective was to bring to life memories that occurred during his unhappy childhood. He uses his passion in order to inspire people that might have similar experience as being multicultural citizens the United States. He pointed out that writing about a theme that resonates to current days is more relevant and beneficial for the new generation. Reaching resistant readers and changing their perception of life is the point where he wants to get to. “Sharing stories that are motives, representative, and where people can assimilate themselves is my main objective and I don’t take myself as much a writer as a story teller,” he said.
Besides his awards, exchanging emotional currency with the readers is what appeals him the most. “If I can reach resistant readers and change them, I think I will make the world slightly a better place,” said Ford. The public were responsive to the event and flooded the author with questions showing their interest to know more about his career pathway. His final message for everybody, especially for young boys who are easily distracted, is to occupy their time with books so that they can work their empathy muscles. For everyone who aspires to be a writer, he invites them to tell their truth and add up their unique experience to the shelves of the bookstores. The book is available at Bellevue College Bookstore for all passionate readers who are curious to know more about what the Asian community has been going through in Seattle during the internment in World War II.