Memorial continues the already impressive streak Washington started with his debut short story collection Lot. Despite the heartbreak, grief, and emotional confusion that the characters in Memorial face as they navigate sex and love, Washington has achieved something beautiful: a chill novel you want to hang out with. Like a good friend, this novel invites you in, cooks up a great meal, and opens up its heart. Including some astute writing about race and food, this novel is a treat and not to be missed
"This book, in what feels like a new vision for the 21st century novel, made me happy." —Ocean Vuong, author of On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous
"This book made me think about the nature of love, and family, and anger, and grief, and love again." —Jasmine Guillory, author of The Wedding Date and The Proposal
What happens when a love story collides with the limits of love--and everyone has an opinion?
Benson and Mike are two young guys who live together in Houston. Mike is a Japanese American chef at a Mexican restaurant and Benson's a Black day care teacher, and they've been together for a few years -- good years -- but now they're not sure why they're still a couple. There's the sex, sure, and the meals Mike cooks for Benson, and, well, they love each other.
But when Mike finds out his estranged father is dying in Osaka just as his acerbic Japanese mother, Mitsuko, arrives in Texas for a visit, Mike picks up and flies across the world to say goodbye. In Japan he undergoes an extraordinary transformation, discovering the truth about his family and his past. Back home, Mitsuko and Benson are stuck living together as unconventional roommates, an absurd domestic situation that ends up meaning more to each of them than they ever could have predicted. Without Mike's immediate pull, Benson begins to push outwards, realizing he might just know what he wants out of life and have the goods to get it.
Both men will change in ways that will either make them stronger together, or fracture everything they've ever known. And just maybe they'll all be okay in the end. Memorial is a funny and profound story about family in all its strange forms, joyful and hard-won vulnerability, becoming who you're supposed to be, and the limits of love.
About the Author
Bryan Washington is a National Book Award 5 Under 35 honoree, and winner of the Dylan Thomas Prize and the Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence. His first book, the story collection Lot, was a finalist for the NBCC’s John Leonard Prize, the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize, the Aspen Words Literary Prize, and the New York Public Library Young Lions Fiction Award. Lot was a New York Times Notable Book, one of Dwight Garner’s top ten books of the year, and on best-of-the-year lists from Time, NPR, Vanity Fair, BuzzFeed, and many more. He has written for The New Yorker, The New York Times, The New York Times Magazine, BuzzFeed, Vulture, The Paris Review, McSweeney’s Quarterly, Tin House, One Story, Bon Appétit, GQ, The Awl, and Catapult. He lives in Houston.
Praise for Bryan Washington National Book Award 5 Under 35 Winner of the Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence Winner of the Dylan Thomas Prize LOT was one of Barack Obama’s “Favorite Books of the Year”
Praise for Memorial
“Memorial is a true page-turner. I was entranced, picking this book up every chance I got. Bryan Washington is a great writer and I love the story he tells here. Intriguing. Each character stays with me.” —Jacqueline Woodson, author of Red At the Bone and Another Brooklyn
"Memorial dares to insist on the mundane, thoroughly lived life as a site of perennial hope, joy, and abundance. It casts a fresh take on the American family that becomes truer because of its disparate origins, the queerness of its genesis, and the buoyed wonder it finds in surviving grief and loss towards the rare and forgiving ground of difficult, hard-won love. All of this done in sentences clean and clear as cut glass. This book, in what feels like a new vision for the 21st century novel, made me happy." —Ocean Vuong, author of On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous
"I was entranced by this deeply original and wholly absorbing novel. Bryan Washington creates characters who are complex, interesting, and three dimensional, and made me care about every single one of them. This book made me think about the nature of love, and family, and anger, and grief, and love again." —Jasmine Guillory, author of The Wedding Date and The Proposal
“Bryan Washington’s Memorial is stunning. Everything happening in this book is so intimate, sensual, and wise. It is a funny book with much sadness and love. It is a story about relationships, and family, and what it means to have and not have home, in Houston, Texas, and in Osaka, Japan. It is also a surprising page-turner. The scenes and characters here couldn’t be more alive and vivid. I love this book.” —Tommy Orange, author of There, There
“Bryan Washington is an expert in illuminating the way we love. Memorial perfectly captures the lives lived in-between what we do and what we say, what we need and what we allow ourselves to have. It is a beautiful heartbreak.” —Mira Jacob, author of Good Talk
“Tender like a bruise, Memorial is a novel of uncommon depth and feeling. It is about everything that matters in life: love, loss, community and communion. Bryan Washington will take your breath away.” —Katie Kitamura, author of A Separation
"Tender, funny, and heartbreaking, this tale of family, food... and growing apart feels intimate and expansive at the same time." —★Publishers Weekly, STARRED review★
"Vividly written... Washington’s novel is richly layered and thrives in the quiet moments between lovers and family members.... There is passion in this novel—fight scenes, sex scenes, screaming matches, and tears—but it reaches a deep poetic realism when Washington explores the space between characters... A subtle and moving exploration of love, family, race, and the long, frustrating search for home." —★Kirkus Reviews, STARRED review★
Praise for Lot
“Audacious…. Washington is a one-man border-eradicating crew.” —Luis Alberto Urrea, New York Times Book Review
“A treat and an inspiration to witness.” —Ocean Vuong, GQ
"A brilliant display of raw talent…. This is the literature that I've been waiting for." —Nicole Dennis-Benn, author of Patsy and Here Comes the Sun
“The promise Washington displays is real and large.” —Dwight Garner, New York Times
“Stunning… It’s hard to overstate what an accomplishment Lot is.” —Michael Schaub, NPR
“Funny, sad, wise & very alive in the best way.” —Curtis Sittenfeld (Twitter)
"The kind of stories I am always longing to read." —Justin Torres, author of We the Animals “Gut-wrenching and powerful.” —Cosmopolitan “Lot spills over with life – funny, tender, and profane.” —Entertainment Weekly