VILLANOVA, Pa. – The mists of time that have obscured a regretful chapter in American history – the World War II internment of Japanese-Americans -- will lift on January 31 when Jamie Ford, author of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, pays a daylong visit to Villanova University to discuss the era and events that inspired his best-selling novel. As Villanova’s 2011-2012 One Book program selection, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet provides a focal point of discussion for the University community throughout the year.
The University invites the public to join in welcoming Ford to its Main campus for a full slate of activities held throughout the day, culminating in a 7:30 p.m. presentation by the author in the Villanova Room of the Connelly Center. No tickets are required for the evening event.
Book signings will be held from 1 p.m.to 2:30 p.m. in the first floor lounge of Falvey Memorial Library and immediately following Ford’s talk in the evening. A One Book Community Dinner honoring the author and featuring cuisine inspired by the book will begin at 6 p.m. in Dougherty Hall. Cost is $5.50, payable at the door.
Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet is the tale of a forbidden intercultural teenaged love affair thwarted and lost amidst the prejudice, suspicion and fear which nightly patrols the streets of World War II Seattle. Years later, the discovery of a keepsake long forgotten among the dusty belongings of Japanese families hastily banished to internment camps revives the hope of redemption and reunion.
“Jamie Ford's ultimately redemptive narrative urges us to look at the realities of our present moment as much as it requires us to understand past tragedies,” said Joseph P. Lucia, director of Villanova’s Falvey Memorial Library and co-chairman of the One Book Villanova committee.
“It asks us,” he added, “to examine the ways that subtle and sometimes barely visible differences of ethnicity and identity create chasms between people that can only be bridged by acts of compassionate imagination and self-sacrifice. We at Villanova are looking forward to discussing with Mr. Ford both the historical realities behind and contemporary implications within his work.”
“One Book Villanova” is a distinctive educational program that engages all segments of the campus community – students, faculty and staff – in activities presented throughout the academic year that explore dominant themes presented in a selected book. Discussion groups, public readings, special events and a One Book blog site extend the campus community’s examination of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet through the end of the spring semester.
Check the One Book Villanova Web site for updates on future events including a 4 p.m., February 22 dramatic reading of Minoru Betsuyaku’s The Elephant, performed by The Renegade Company of Philadelphia in the West Lounge of Dougherty Hall on the University’s Main Campus. Set in a hospital in post-Hiroshima, the play examines the thoughts and emotions of a victim of the attack contemplating the life and choices he has made. The play commemorates the 70th anniversary of the opening of the first Japanese internment camp.
On March 20, Lane Ryo Hirabayashi, Ph.D., Professor of Asian American Studies at UCLA and The George and Sakaye Aratani Professor of the Japanese American Community, Internment, and Redress, will speak about “The Mass Incarceration of Japanese Americans, 1942-1946: Impact and Implications.” A.H. Nishikawa, Ph.D., a local Japanese American citizen who grew up in an internment camp, will share his family's experiences on April 20.
Other selections featured since the One Book Villanova program began in 2005 include The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseni, Blood Done Sign My Name, by Timothy Tyson, Left To Tell by Imaculee Ilibagiza, The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls, and Rooftops of Tehran by Mahbod Seraji.
About Villanova University: Since 1842, Villanova University’s Augustinian Catholic intellectual tradition has been the cornerstone of an academic community in which students learn to think critically, act compassionately and succeed while serving others. There are more than 10,000 undergraduate, graduate and law students in the University's five colleges – the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the Villanova School of Business, the College of Engineering, the College of Nursing and the Villanova University School of Law. As students grow intellectually, Villanova prepares them to become ethical leaders who create positive change everywhere life takes them.