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Bryan Washington’s beautiful novel ‘Memorial’ glides between characters living real love

The new book by the author of the acclaimed story collecton ‘Lot’ follows the complex relationship between a Black day care teacher and a Japanese American chef.

Bryan Washington.
Bryan Washington.

Bryan Washington’s new novel “Memorial” (Riverhead Books, $27) follows the complex relationship between Benson, a Black day care teacher, and Mike, a Japanese American chef.

They live together in Texas, and, for all intents and purposes, they are in love.

Lately, though, their relationship has felt strained. As issues with their families become more pressing, their lives together only grow more complicated.

Mike’s mother arrives for a visit at the same time Mike finds out his estranged father is dying in Japan. So he leaves Benson alone to live with his mother in their apartment and travels to be with his father.

Bryan Washington’s “Memorial.”
Click here for an excerpt from Bryan Washington’s “Memorial.”
Riverhead Books

Benson’s time with Mike’s mom, as well as Mike’s time navigating his relationship with his father, prove to be transformative for both men.

“Memorial” is a powerful portrait of the challenges that often come with loving another human being.

With beautiful prose, it weaves together a fascinating story of cultures, families, and lovers clashing and coming together in the beautiful mess that is loving and living.

The characters might feel lost and out of control. But their story never does.

Washington — also author of the acclaimed story collecton “Lot” — has a strong and purposeful command over every moment. With its soft prose and alternating perspectives, “Memorial” feels like a dance, effortlessly gliding between the characters’ stories as they discover who they are supposed to be.