The opening pages of Jamie Ford’s stunning debut novel are like watching the progress of a delicate Chinese watercolour painting. Henry Lee comes upon a crowd gathered 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 hidden below, left when they were sent to internment camps during World War II.

The story goes back and forth between the 1940s and the 1980s to weave an intricate tale of friendship and young love between Henry, a young Chinese-American from a family that holds bitterly to longstanding prejudices, and Keiko, a young Japanese-American whose family were caught up in the anti-Japanese America of World War II.

Forty years after they were separated, Henry still wonders whether he made the right choice.

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet is an extraordinary story of commitment and enduring hope. In Henry and Keiko, Jamie Ford has created an unforgettable duo whose story teaches us of the power of forgiveness and the human heart.

Clare Cannon lives in Sydney where she is the manager of Portico Books and editor of the soon to be launched

Clare Cannon lives in Sydney where she is editor of The Good Reading Guide and manager of Portico Books,...