Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet
begins with a real-life event:
The 1986 discovery in Seattle's Panama Hotel of the belongings of thirty-seven
Japanese families, stored there for safe-keeping in 1942. As one would expect,
much of the novel revolves around events just before and just after American
residents of Japanese descent were forcibly relocated during WWII. As
historical fiction, the book is top-notch; Ford's insertion of references to
historic Seattle landmarks, locations and events create a heightened sense of
realism. He also does an exemplary job of describing the atmosphere of Seattle's
Chinatown in the 1940s.
"The entire city came alive in the morning. Men in fish-stained
T-shirts hauled crates of rock cod and buckets of geoduck clams,
half-buried in ice. Henry walked by, listening to the men bark at...
Beyond the Book
Japanese-Americans in World War II
People of Japanese descent were the victims of racial prejudice from the time
they first started to arrive in the USA, and USA-controlled Hawaii, in the mid
to late 19th century to work as laborers. By the early 1900s, some
Japanese immigrants had started to lease land and sharecrop - California reacted
by passing The Alien Land Law of 1913 which banned the purchase of land by
Japanese. A little over a decade later, the 1924 US Immigration Act banned
immigration from Japan.
By the start of World War II, anti-Japanese sentiment was high, particularly
among the farming and fishing communities competing with the Japanese for both
jobs and commerce. The panic and hysteria following Pearl Harbor in...