Memorial (Large Print / Library Binding)
Washington’s debut novel (after LOT: Stories) is a fascinating story of a contemporary relationship between two young men of different backgrounds but with similar father-son issues. Unlike LOT, which I loved for the multiple perspectives and relationships, MEMORIAL is simpler, though it is narrated by both main characters. Benson is the primary narrator, and he spends most of his time writing about his boyfriend Michael, with whom he has been living for four years, the people he works with at a day-care center, and his family – his sister and his divorced parents. Benson grew up in Katy in a middle class family. Michael, on the other hand, immigrated as a young child to Houston from Japan with his parents, and had a hand-to-mouth childhood before becoming a restaurant cook. Michael’s father returned to Japan 11 years ago, but Michael and his mother remained in the U.S. until his mother returned to Japan when Michael was grown. Now Michael’s father is dying, and Michael decides to go back to Japan to visit him, describing the experience in the sections of the novel that he narrates. At the same time, Michael’s mother comes to Houston to visit. While Michael is in Japan, Benson and Michael’s mother live together in the apartment. When Michael returns, he and Benson realize that they are in different places in their own relationship as well as their relationships with family members and others.— Alice
November 2020 Indie Next List
“Reading Memorial is like sitting down with a dear friend, asking ‘What’s going on with you?’ and settling in for much-needed catch-up on life, love, heartache, and family. Washington’s writing is so intimate and direct that you feel the exhilaration, frustration, and uncertainty that Benson and Mike feel about their relationships, both with one another and with their families, which inspires a heart-felt connection to these characters that is hard to find in the world during socially distant times.”
— Colleen Ellis, Lark and Owl Booksellers, Georgetown, TX
NAMED A MOST ANTICIPATED BOOK OF THE SEASON BY:
Wall Street Journal ● Washington Post ● CBS Sunday Morning ● Good Morning America ● People ● Time ● New York Magazine ● Buzzfeed ● Parade ● USA Today ● Esquire ● Harper's Bazaar ● Popsugar ● Goodreads ● Boston Globe ● Minneapolis Star Tribune ● Refinery 29 ● New York Observer ● Good Housekeeping ● The Week ● Bookpage ● The Millions ● Kirkus ● Publishers Weekly "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 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. 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.