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Publisher's Summary

A New York Times Notable Book of the Year

A Good Morning America Book Club Pick

Named a Best Book of the Year by The New York Times, The Washington Post, TIME, NPR, Entertainment Weekly, Vanity Fair, O, the Oprah Magazine, Esquire, Marie Claire, Harper's Bazaar, Good Housekeeping, Refinery29, Real Simple, Kirkus Reviews, Electric Literature, and Lit Hub

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 good-bye. 

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.

“A masterpiece.” (NPR)

“No other novel this year captures so gracefully the full palette of America.” (The Washington Post

“Wryly funny, gently devastating.” (Entertainment Weekly)

©2020 Bryan Washington (P)2020 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

“Wryly funny, gently devastating… Washington’s hand is effortless - smooth dialogue, a love for good food, and his vibrant, sprawling, gradually gentrifying hometown - in inviting you into a nuanced love story that sticks to you like the Texas heat.” (Entertainment Weekly)

“A fresh, vibrant love story that interweaves race, queerness, nationality, family, and intimacy with narrative ease.” (Vogue)

“A beautiful, unusual examination of the difference between love and care, and what happens when they merge.” (The Washington Post)

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What listeners say about Memorial

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

I just couldn’t connect.

Did I hate this? No. I was interested in the story the whole time, but the characters are just so flat. Bryan Washington did his work a disservice because he sooooo painfully monotone on top of it. I am a queer man myself and I am in an interracial relationship so I thought I may be able to relate, but not very much. The constant f bombs were weird. It just didn’t seem real. If it was a characteristic of one person maybe, but from every main character. It just was awkward. I was mostly interested in both Tan and Omar rather than any of the other characters.

1 person found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

A bit bland

The narrator's voice was so monotoned I really struggled to enjoy the book. There were too many he said she said.

1 person found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Some poignant moments

Bryan Washington is a gifted writer but his narration lacks emotion. This book contained too much dialogue and not enough movement too keep me completely engaged.

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    1 out of 5 stars
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Unbearible

Book was chosen for a monthly book club read. I attempted reading the actual book, but was not drawn in to the story (if there is a story) so then I saw the audible version, read by the writer. Still can not access this story. We read stories to disappear into other worlds and see ourselves from a new perspective. But when a writer tells a story that is so uninteresting it becomes unbearable. Some things are just not meant to be told.

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one narrator great, the other not so great

narrator for the first and last sections isn't great, every sentence ends with the tone shifting downward and it's pretty grating. middle narrator is much much better. the first part of the novel is a little too aimless, the second part is much stronger, and the third part doesn't resolve anything. I think that's the point, that the story is just a series of things that happen. but I read stories to get away from life, not mimic it.

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Great Read

Fresh story line showing a rarely shown dynamic between families, couple, children and parents set in Houston and Japan!

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    2 out of 5 stars
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Disappointing

Memorial was on a list of must reads for 2020 so I thought I’d give it a listen. If I didn’t spend money on this audible, I would have stopped listening after the first chapter. Non likable character after non likable character. Mike and Benson were both jerks, and both their families had disconnected characters.

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I loved this!

I loved this story. I loved the characters. I loved the relationships. I loved the themes of family, as screwed up as they can be. I teared up once or twice, but I laughed at the frank truths within numerous times. I loved it. If you want something cookie cutter move on. If you want something honest, then do yourself a favor and read this. Amazing.

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Lots of love grounded in reality

It’s nice to hear a story about people who’s lives, love, and relationship aren’t the “norm”.

Immigration, love, privilege, sex, HIV status, monogamy, and food speak more about culture than many see on the daily.

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    1 out of 5 stars
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Awful

We couldn’t even finish the book. My husband and I are avid book readers on audible and we listen to books while traveling. We started Memorial and tried to get through a few chapters and it didn’t get better.