I always like to know the background of a book and it didn’t take long to find some interesting facts about the famous Panama Hotel, featured in The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet.
As Jamie Ford notes in the back of his book, “the Panama Hotel is a very real place. And yes, the belongings of thirty-seven Japanese families do indeed reside there, most of them in the dusty, dimly lit basement.” Check out these pictures and descriptions from the hotel’s website:
This early picture of the hotel was photographed in 1929. The building still maintains much of the original structure.
Two Japanese American women storing valuables in the basement of the hotel. This chest still remains along with many others remains where it was left over 50 years ago.
This picture from The Seattle Times shows the Panama Hotel’s current owner, Jan Johnson looking at the artifacts in the basement.
A July 2015 article in The Seattle Times announced that the hotel has been awarded a $137,000 preservation grant from the National Park Service, deeming the hotel a “National Treasure”. Click here to view the article.
Click here to read my review of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet.
I’m looking forward to starting Hotel on theCorner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford. I’ve heard only good things about Ford’s debut novel, a work of historical fiction which was published in 2009. Here’s a quick description, taken from the back of my copy:
In 1986, Henry Lee joins a crowd outside the Panama Hotel, once the gateway to Seattle’s Japantown. It has been boarded up for decades, but now the new owner has discovered the belongings of Japanese families who were sent to internment camps during World War II. As the owner displays and unfurls a Japanese parasol, Henry, a Chinese American, remembers a young Japanese American girl from his childhood in the 1940s – Keiko Okabe, with whom he forged a bond of friendship and innocent love that transcended the prejudices of their Old World ancestors. After Keiko and her family were evacuated to the internment camps, she and Henry could only hope that their promise to each other would be kept. Now, forty years later, Henry explores the hotel’s basement for the Okabe family’s belongings and for a long-lost object whose value he cannot even begin to measure. His search will take him on a journey to revisit the sacrifices he has made for family, for love, for country.