An emotionally resonant novel about what it means to go home, how to build a life, and what we owe the ones we love
by Bryan Washington
Benson and Mike live together in Houston, but they’re always just about to fall apart—fighting, having sex, and falling asleep only to start over again. Where Mike—a Japanese-American chef at a Mexican restaurant—is action and quick decisions that often involve drama, Benson—a Black daycare teacher—is the opposite. He is complacent and languid, with a good-for-now job and goodfornow relationships. Yet, in the skillful hands of Bryan Washington’s uniquely striking sentences, it is clear that both young men have grander desires, and both long for honest connections that they are not yet able or ready to fully express. Sometimes it’s the meals they share that do the talking for them. When Mike’s father gets a cancer diagnoses overseas just as his Japanese mother, Mitsuko, arrives in Texas to cope, Mike flies to Osaka to say goodbye to a father who has never really been present in his life. Mike’s quick departure forces both men to reconcile with what they think they know about life, love, and the people who are left to pick up the pieces. Living alongside the stern and reserved Mitsuko without Mike holding him in place, Benson wanders and grows and begins to shake off his paralysis, reconciling with his own family as he learns to form another. He also learns a thing or two from Mitsuko about cracking an egg with your palm and not burning the rice. In Osaka, Mike tends bar at his father’s place, meeting the people that make up his father’s world, and as he is attempting to navigate a city where he finally looks like everyone else, he begins to wonder if this is where he actually belongs.
Bryan Washington has written for the New Yorker, The New York Times, The New York Times Magazine, The Paris Review, Tin House, One Story, BuzzFeed, GQ, FADER, The Awl, and Catapult.