Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet Study Guide

Welcome to the LitCharts study guide on Jamie Ford's Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet. Created by the original team behind SparkNotes, LitCharts are the world's best literature guides.

Brief Biography of Jamie Ford

Though Ford was born in California, he grew up in the Pacific Northwest, including Seattle and Port Orchard, Washington. He is Chinese on his father’s side; in 1865, Ford’s paternal great grandfather, born Min Chung, immigrated from China to the United States, where he changed his name to William Ford. Ford graduated from the Art Institute of Seattle in 1988 with a degree in art and design. In 2008 he married Leesha Ford, and they now live with their blended family of nine children in Montana. Aside from Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, Ford has written two other novels, both of which also deal with the question of Chinese American identity.
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Historical Context of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet

The novel takes place during the internment of Japanese Americans by order of the US federal government. Over 100,000 Americans of Japanese descent were removed from there homes and imprisoned during this time. The novel makes mention of Executive Orders 9066 and 9102. The former allowed the federal government the power to designate any area of the country a “military area,” from which anyone could be excluded at the government’s whim. The latter order created the War Relocation Authority, which was responsible for the relocation and internment of Japanese Americans.

Other Books Related to Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet focuses on the internment and discrimination that Asian Americans experienced during World War II. Similarly, Julie Otsuka’s When the Emperor Was Divine centers on a Japanese American family from California who are imprisoned at an internment camp in Utah during World War II. No-No Boy by John Okada examines the aftermath of Japanese-American internment, following a protagonist who returns home to Seattle after being imprisoned in a camp and then jailed for refusing to serve in the US military. Though it focuses on the experience of French Jews during World War Two, Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay examines themes similar to Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, including the complexity of identity and the power of love.
Key Facts about Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet
  • Full Title: Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet
  • When Published: 2009
  • Literary Period: Contemporary
  • Genre: Historical fiction
  • Setting: Seattle, Washington
  • Climax: Henry travels to Idaho to find Keiko at Camp Minidoka and is later reunited with Keiko are reunited in New York City.
  • Antagonist: Chaz Preston, bigotry, xenophobia
  • Point of View: Third person

Extra Credit for Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet

Playing Favorites. Ford has a soft spot for Sheldon Thomas and Mrs. Beatty. “I love them so much that I’ve written short stories starring each of them,” he says. “I just wasn’t ready to say goodbye, I guess.”

Origin Story. Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet began as an assignment Ford received from fantasy writer Orson Scott Card, when Ford attended a literary bootcamp Card was running. Card challenged Ford to write “a noble romantic tragedy.” The short story Ford came up with ultimately became the chapter in the novel entitled “I Am Chinese.”