AUGUSTA — New York Times best-selling author Jamie Ford is thrilled to have his debut novel chosen for the 2012 Capital Read Program and looks forward to his visit to Maine’s capital city.

“I’ve never been to Maine, so I’m really excited. I’ve been to 37 other states, but never Maine,” Ford said. “I’m really looking forward to this. I think it will be a fun time.”

Ford, who lives in Great Falls, Mont., will be at Lithgow Public Library to talk about “Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet” at 6:30 p.m. on April 18.

The Capital Read program, which has an Asian theme this year, is an annual event aimed at promoting literature and reading in the Augusta area.

Ford’s novel explores how Japanese families were removed from their homes and sent to internment camps.

“At the core of the book is a love story set in the ’40s, a young Chinese American boy and a young Japanese American girl,” he said. “It also takes place in the ’80s with a widower reflecting back on that time. Really, when you dissect it down to its tiniest essence, it’s really a very simple story.”

During World War ll, 110,000 Japanese Americans and nationals on the West Coast were incarcerated and sent inland to internment camps, where they remained for the duration of the war, Ford said.

Betsy Pohl, director of Lithgow Public Library, said her patrons are excited that Ford is coming for the highlight event of the reading program.

She said the library has held several other events to build up to Ford’s visit, including an Asian paper craft session, and this week is hosting a lecture by Dennis Grafflin, professor of history at Bates College. Grafflin will present “World War ll Japanese-American Relocation Camps in Context” at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday.

“Generally when we pick a book for the community read, we pick one that resonates with people and gives us an opportunity to explore other aspects of the book,” Pohl said.

“Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet” is a book that stayed below the radar before becoming a word-of-mouth success, Pohl said. Copies at the library are signed out as soon as they are returned.

“It appeals to men and women,” she said. “There’s the historic aspect and a love story and thought-provoking questions about war, racism, fear and community. It really does a good job of explaining the severity in terms of the impact on people when they were relocated.”

Ford agrees that his book is “sort of a sleeper hit.” His novel has been translated into 34 languages and is a bestseller in Norway, Italy and Taiwan.

He said it’s also doing well in Japan.

“It’s taken on a life of its own,” Ford said.

Ford is the great-grandson of Nevada mining pioneer Min Chung, who emigrated in 1865 from Kaiping, China, to San Francisco, where he adopted the western name Ford, “thus confusing countless generations.”

Ford is an award-winning short story writer. His short fiction includes “Dim Sum,” “Stalking Mrs. Right” and “Giving Her the Bird.” He’s also the author of a graphic novel, or novel in comic strip format, “Gaman,” which appears in “Secret Identities,” the first Asian-American superhero anthology.

Ford said his speaking events tend to be 50 percent entertainment, 40 percent education and 10 percent reading.

“I find most readers want to get to know their authors a little bit more,” he said. “The story behind the story and if they read the book they usually have tons of questions and we’ll get into those.”

More information about Ford and his work can be found on his website,

Mechele Cooper — 621-5663

[email protected]

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