Jamie Ford

Novelist Jamie Ford—his great-grandfather changed the family surname from Chung—grew up here in Chinatown, though he now resides in Montana. His 2009 debut novel, Hotel at the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, sprang from the “I am Chinese” button his father wore as a Seattle boy during the ’40s—to avoid being confused with despised Japanese-Americans. Hotel, which includes real history from that recently renovated building, is part wartime forbidden-puppy-love story, part reconsideration of that era four decades later. “At my grandparents’ level, there was this abstract kinship with the Japanese-Americans and the Filipinos, because they were all second-class citizens,” says Ford by phone of the war years. “But then they didn’t mix. It was a separate society. There was probably a little bit of enmity. Japan had invaded China. If a Chinese woman would marry a Japanese guy, her parents wouldn’t go to the wedding.” Today, the inter-ethnic tensions are largely gone, Ford believes, though Chinatown—or just call it the ID—was diminished in the ’60s when “I-5 tore up that area. Chinatown is like this scar tissue on the Emerald City. For whatever reason, no one’s ever wanted to revitalize Chinatown.” (Also: Seattle Public Library, Ballard Branch, 2 p.m. Sat.; and Seattle Central Library, 2 p.m. Sun.) BRIAN MILLER

Thu., Feb. 3, 7 p.m.; Sat., Feb. 5, 2 p.m.; Sun., Feb. 6, 2 p.m., 2011

 
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