Benson is a Black, gay, part-time day care instructor alienated from his parents, who are also alienated from each other. Mike is a Japanese cook whose parents are also no longer together. Mike invites his mother Mitsuko to Houston, only to leave for Osaka when he learns his estranged father has cancer. Not only does Ben not know what to do with Mitsuko except eat her food, he’s not even sure what he’s doing with Mike, who’s looking to open up the relationship. And while Ben’s mom has drifted away and can do fine on her own, his dad isn’t exactly healthy. The story moves from Benson to Mike and back again as each navigates the push/pull of family, responsibility, and commitment. Memorial is a sex positive, HIV positive, sort of comedy-love story with a magnetic emotional resonance that exerts its pull just when you least expect it.— Daniel Goldin
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.