by Bryan Washington

Modern and Contemporary Fiction Literary Fiction Family Drama Sharing Diverse Voices Books of the Month Star Books

LoveReading Expert Review of Memorial

A dazzlingly profound and un-put-down-able exploration of family, memory and love centred around the unexpected transformations of two gay young men.

Wisely comic, soul-searchingly tender, and defiantly unsentimental, Bryan Washington’s Memorial is a brilliant bittersweet debut. Really it’s a story of many things that matter most in life, when it comes down to it - family, emotional closeness, physical closeness, the urge to break free, and the compulsion to return. It’s also about the unexpected experiences and discoveries that come in the wake of strangers being thrown together, in this case when Mike finds out his estranged father is dying as his mother is due to stay with him, and as his two-year relationship teeters into fizzling-out territory

While Mike heads to Osaka, boyfriend Benson plays host to Mike’s mother in Houston. Benson’s never met straight-talking Mitsuko, but little by little they form an unlikely and profound bond. Meanwhile, after meandering memories and feeling the strange melancholia of being reunited with his dying, distant dad, Mike is transformed by his Osaka experience. Through all this richness, Memorial is an absorbing, funny, stirring achievement told in lucid, elegant style.

Joanne Owen

Memorial Synopsis

Benson and Mike are two young guys who have 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 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, while 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...

Funny and profound, Memorial is about family in all its strange forms, becoming who you're supposed to be and the outer limits of love.

What To Read After Memorial

The Country of Others
The Girl with the Louding Voice
Briefly, A Delicious Life

Bryan Washington Press Reviews

A tender, wistful, often profound story about a deteriorating romance between two twentysomething men... Lo-fi and intimate - Sunday Times

Funny and moving... Memorial confirms Washington as a writer not just to watch, but to read now - The Times

A masterclass in empathy... Washington transforms revelations into cliff-hangers, like Elena Ferrante. He writes layered sex scenes, like Garth Greenwell - Guardian

A tender and moving story about the ties that bind us to those we love, sometimes against our better judgment or our strongest will - The Telegraph

Washington is a technically dazzling writer - Alan Hollinghurst, New York Review of Books

A triumph - Paul Bailey, Literary Review

Dazzling... With crackling dialogue and gimlet-eyed humour, Washington paints a vivid, poignant portrait of how love, romantic and familial, is weathered and ultimately deepened by time - Esquire

A fresh, vibrant love story that interweaves race, queerness, nationality, family, and intimacy with narrative ease - Vogue

Brilliantly details the smallest moments that mean the absolute most, the heartbreakingly human limitations of how we love one another - Kiley Reid, author of Such a Fun Age

Memorial 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. - Ocean Vuong, author of On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous

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

Stunning. Everything happening in Memorial is so intimate, sensual, and wise. I love this book. - Tommy Orange, author of There There

A true page-turner. I was entranced. - Jacqueline Woodson, author of Another Brooklyn

Made me think about the nature of love, and family, and anger, and grief, and love again. - Jasmine Guillory, author of The Proposal

Bryan Washington is an expert in illuminating the way we love. It is a beautiful heartbreak. - Mira Jacob, author of Good Talk

It is about everything that matters in life. - Katie Kitamura, author of A Separation

Wryly funny, gently devastating - Entertainment Weekly

A beautiful, unusual examination of the difference between love and care, and what happens when they merge - Washington Post

This book is so poignant and beautiful, asking questions about what it means to live a life and what it means to love - LitHub

Implicit in a book about changing relationships and titled Memorial is the question of what is being preserved. The book preserves Houston and Osaka. It preserves the feeling of being young and lost. It preserves the food that gives us comfort and nourishment and purpose. - The New York Times

Wonderfully irreverent and heart-meltingly tender - Oprah Magazine

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

Bryan Washington writes some of contemporary fiction's most tender stories... Queer love, family dynamics, Houston settings, and cooking... the young writer has brilliantly united them all in his new novel - New York Observer

Big-hearted and moving - Harper's Bazaar

Bryan Washington writes quiet. His characters methodically chop cabbage, or slide silently from room to room. Then, bam. A quick, elliptical conversation will smack you sideways with its heft and resonance. - Vulture

This sensitive novel illustrates the deeply individual ways we search for a sense of home. - RealSimple

This intimate story is about the families we are born into and the families we choose for ourselves... a quiet, sensual exploration of how we decide who we stick around for. - Mashable

Not only an exploration of a kaleidoscopically diverse America... but a moving portrait of two young men who are figuring out exactly who they are in this world. Anyone who enjoyed Washington's dreamlike yet textured meditations on life in Houston in Lot will be enchanted with Memorial. - The Millions

At once a love story, a tale of self-actualization, and an ode to family in every sense of the word. - Popsugar

Washington creates two men so real it feels like even though the book ended, they will keep on living and figuring it out and making mistakes and falling down and getting back up again. - Alma

With wit and humor, Washington tackles race, class, identity and queerness... In a story about first loves and family, both men will change as they discover their own truths. - Parade

At once fresh and new and daring, while also feeling wholly familiar - The Advocate

A love story so multifaceted and emotionally nuanced as to feel transformative - Seattle Times

Bryan Washington writes some of contemporary fiction's most tender stories. . . . Queer love, family dynamics, Houston settings, and cooking . . . . the young writer has brilliantly united them all in his new novel. - New York Observer

[Washington's] ability with writing the sensual pleasures of making and eating food is a good way of understanding his ability as a novelist to write about the human mind. It's such a beautiful book . . . a pure pleasure. - Rumaan Alam, The Maris Review

Extraordinary. . . . Washington writes with ease, like a juggler who is adding in new objects all the time, except the book ends with everything aloft instead of in hand. . . . It can be difficult to share your life with someone; Washington somehow explains this anew. Memorial, on the other hand, is easy to share. - The Paris Review

I really loved this book. It's tender and touching - David Nicholls

Other editions of this book

ISBN: 9781838950101
Publication date: 07/10/2021
Format: Paperback

ISBN: 9781838950088
Publication date: 07/01/2021
Format: Hardback

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About Bryan Washington

Bryan Washington has written for The New Yorker, The New York Times, the New York Times Magazine, BuzzFeed, Vulture, The Paris Review, Tin House, One Story, Bon Appetit, MUNCHIES, American Short Fiction, GQ, FADER, The Awl, and Catapult. He lives in Houston.  

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