Did You Live In Your Own “Hotel On The Corner Of Bitter And Sweet”?

Did you live in Kitsap County in the 1940s, especially during the war years?

Did you and your family immigrate to America? Did you go through the bitter and sweet experience of blending the culture you brought from your home country into American society?

Do you have 25 minutes to spare, to share a few of those stories?

If so, the Kitsap Regional Library is very interested in hearing them.

The call to collect these oral histories is part of the library’s One Book One Community program, which this year celebrates Hotel On The Corner Of Bitter And Sweet, the well-received, bestselling debut novel by South Kitsap High School graduate Jamie Ford. The above themes are the ones touched on in the book, which alternates in narrative between Seattle’s Chinese and Japanese communities in the 1940s and 1980s. The celebration will culminate in an Oct. 16 speaking appearance in Poulsbo by Ford, who now lives in Montana.

Heidi Larsen, the Kitsap librarian heading the oral history project, explains further.

“When you share your memories of Kitsap County, your experiences of immigration, and living in two cultures, you are giving back to your community,” she said. “Others can learn from your experiences.”

And, Larsen added, “oral histories are a great way to interact with the themes of Hotel On The Corner Of Bitter And Sweet.

If you’re interested, or know someone who might be, here’s how it works.

First, call your nearest KRL branch. Library volunteers are being trained to conduct oral-history interviews for the project. Once you’ve set an appointment, your interview — approximately 25 minutes — will be recorded. You’ll later receive a copy of the interview on CD.

Another CD recording of each interview will be catalogued into the KRL collection, along with photos of each interviewee, and be posted on the library’s website — krl.org.

(Phone numbers for each KRL branch can be found here.)

Sometime in November, the library system will host an Oral History Celebration, with all interview participants invited.

* * * * *

Just a reminder that Jamie Ford has agreed to do a question-and-answer session for this blog ahead of his Oct. 16 appearance here. I’ll send off my questions and get that scheduled as soon as I finish reading Hotel On The Corner Of Bitter And Sweet. And I have to say, it’s pretty good. Maybe even quite a bit better than that. Which, from this confirmed mystery-and-true-crime junkie, may be saying something. Or maybe not.

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