Today, it’s another book review and this time it’s all about the dazzling debut novel from Bryan Washington, Memorial.
My proof copy was kindly gifted by the publishers and I think it might be one of my favourite books… it’s Bryan Washington’s new novel, Memorial. But first, what is it about? Here is the synopsis:
Benson and Mike are two young guys who have 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 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, while 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…
Funny and profound, Memorial is about family in all its strange forms, becoming who you’re supposed to be and the outer limits of love.
Bryan Washington is the winner of the Dylan Thomas Prize for his bestselling short story collection, LOT, and is now back with his debut novel and I was completely enchanted by it. Before reading this, I was in a bit of a reading slump but this took me out of it completely and hooked me straight away. I love how his writing hooks you in straight away, how he crafts his characters and how he can say so much with saying so little. I also loved the form of the book, too. From changing perspectives of characters, the inclusion of photographs – it felt much more intimate to me, as if we are right there, looking at this relationship.
I found this to be an incredibly tender book. I loved the characters – every single one of them. They all felt incredibly real and flawed and embedded into the novel itself. I loved how explored sexuality, sex, love, relationship dynamics, memory, grief, and I really loved the way he explored food in the novel too and the importance of food, too. I loved the exploration of the relationship between Benson and Mike that felt incredibly real and I couldn’t put it down.
Overall, this is a wonderful novel that I can’t stop thinking about. It’s one of the best novels published this year and I just can’t wait to fall in love with it all over again. But more importantly, I can’t wait to see what he writes next.
A big thank you to the publishers for my copy! I adored it. Already a new favourite of mine…
Have you read Memorial? What did you think? Let me know in the comments!