The debut novel from a rising literary star: a funny, sexy, sensual examination of two young men falling in and out 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 is 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, realising 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.
Author: Bryan Washington
Trade Paperback Published November 2020
Read and Recommended by Hendri:
"Bryan Washington's Memorial is a rare novel that brings together two gay men of colour attempting to make sense of their relationship that is not only divided by race and class but also by the unsayable. Written in crisp paragraphs and dialogues, Washington brilliantly captures what is hidden and suppressed in the psyche of the characters; readers are invited to look beyond what is presented, and feel the undercurrent emotions lying beneath the pithy sentences and conversations. Mike, a Japanese, learns that his estranged father is dying in Osaka, and decides to fly across the world to accompany him in his last days. Ben, a black American and Mike's partner, however, must confront the reality that as Mike leaves him, Mike's mother, Mitsuko, arrives in Houston and plans to stay with them. Having left alone with the acerbic Mitsuko who often makes snarky comments, Ben gradually finds the other side of Mike that he barely knows, leading him to question his feelings toward Mike. Amidst this emotional turmoil, Ben begins to see another man that further cements his confusion about what he truly wants from his attachment with Mike. Simultaneously, in Osaka, Mike must not only confront his own childhood memories and estranged relationship with his father but also think about to where and whom he really belongs. A tour-de-force, Memorial explores the intersection of race, sexuality, and questions of belonging, from the vantage point of people who are already 'homeless'."