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.
Bryan Washington has written for the New York Times, the New York Times Magazine, New York Magazine, BuzzFeed, The Paris Review, Boston Review, Tin House, One Story, GQ, FADER, The Awl, and Catapult. He lives in Houston, Texas.
BryWashing.com / @BryWashing
This book is so poignant and beautiful, asking questions about what it means to live a life and what it means to love. * LitHub * This is a love story, writ large, that sings... Washington writes about race, class, family, love, and the idea of home with evocative nuance and phenomenal dialogue. * Booklist, 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 * Tender, funny, and heartbreaking, this tale of family, food... and growing apart feels intimate and expansive at the same time. * Publishers Weekly, STARRED review * Memorial is a tour de force, truly unlike anything I've read before. Bryan Washington's take on love, family, and responsibility is as complicated and true as life itself. I can't stop thinking about it. * Ann Patchett, author of Bel Canto * Brilliantly details the smallest moments that mean the absolute most, the heartbreakingly human limitations of how we love one another, and with all its many roommates and zip codes and implications, Memorial beautifully rests in how difficult it is to ever truly go home. * Kiley Reid, author of Such a Fun Age * Transformative * Washington Post * A very different kind of love story... Washington's deeply touching (and deeply funny) look at love, sex, family, grief, and the ways in which we take care of each other is a revelation, a reminder of how powerful a novel can be. * Refinery29 * Wonderfully irreverent and heart-meltingly tender. * Oprah Magazine * It is about everything that matters in life. * Katie Kitamura, author of A Separation * Bryan Washington is an expert in illuminating the way we love. It is a beautiful heartbreak. * Mira Jacob, author of Good Talk * Made me think about the nature of love, and family, and anger, and grief, and love again. * Jasmine Guillory, author of The Proposal * A true page-turner. I was entranced. * Jacqueline Woodson, author of Another Brooklyn * Stunning. Everything happening in this book is so intimate, sensual, and wise. I love this book. * Tommy Orange, author of There, There * 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 *