Award-winning author of Lot and Memorial
About Bryan Washington
Even though the themes Bryan Washington’s body of work range from food, film, and the arts to sexuality, gentrification, and blackness in America, the setting remains constant in his fiction and personal essays: his hometown, Houston, Texas. He set the entirely of his debut book, Lot, in the Texan city, with each of its short stories named after Houston’s streets. Though each short story stands on its own, reading Lot from start to finish is an exploration of the rapidly transforming city on the cusp of gentrification. Following a recurring narrator, readers roam the sprawling city’s diverse neighborhoods and meet the people that populate the narrator’s life. With its soulful insight into what makes a community, a family, and a life, Lot was named one of Barack Obama’s favorite books of 2019 and a The New York Times Notable Book of 2019, was the winner of Dylan Thomas prize and the 2020 Lambda Literary Award in Gay Fiction, and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle’s John Leonard Award, the PEN Bingham Award, and the Aspen Words Literary Prize.
Following his acclaimed debut, Washington continues to explore Houston with his novel, Memorial. This highly anticipated novel, longlisted for the 2021 Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence in Fiction and Good Morning America November book club pick, follows a young biracial couple, Benson and Mike, as they navigate love, both romantic and familial. Memorial is a funny and insightful love story that examines vulnerability, becoming who you’re supposed to be, and the limits of love. Using the same humorous and perceptive voice that he employs in his prose, Washington speaks to academic and literary audiences about his writing and experiences. He also gives lectures on rooting a story in scenery and the power of literature in exploring themes of identity, family, and community.
In addition to his acclaimed works, Bryan Washington has written for many publications, such as The New Yorker, American Short Fiction, and The Cut. Washington was named a National Book Award 5 Under 35 honoree and is the 2019 winner of the Earnest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence and the Annual O. Henry Prize and the 2020 winner of the Lambda Literary Award for Gay Fiction. He currently lives in Houston, Texas and lectures at Rice University.
Writing in Place
Bryan Washington's stories are centered around his hometown, Houston, Texas. As he explains, "Every story we tell is rooted in a moment, and every moment is rooted in the geography we experience it." In this engaging seminar, Bryan Washington explores with the audience the meaning of the places in our lives to the stories we tell.
Queering the Arc
As a writer, Bryan Washington challenges the norms. He believes that "our stories are greater than the structures a traditional canon can offer, especially among queer storytellers and narratives." In this profound lecture, Washington parses through how queer narratives continue to change and subvert expectations.
Food is an implicit part of the narratives in Bryan Washington's stories. In this fascinating talk, he explains the role that food plays in community, story, and history. Together with his audience, Bryan works through extrapolating, contorting, and expanding on what makes a meal in the stories we tell.
Praise for Bryan Washington
Praise for Memorial
Memorial dares to insist on the mundane, thoroughly lived life as a site of perennial hope, joy, and abundance. It casts a fresh take on the American family that becomes truer because of its disparate origins, the queerness of its genesis, and the buoyed wonder it finds in surviving grief and loss towards the rare and forgiving ground of difficult, hard-won love. All of this done in sentences clean and clear as cut glass. 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
I was entranced by this deeply original and wholly absorbing novel. Bryan Washington creates characters who are complex, interesting, and three dimensional, and made me care about every single one of them. 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
Bryan Washington’s Memorial is stunning. Everything happening in this book is so intimate, sensual, and wise. It is a funny book with much sadness and love. It is a story about relationships, and family, and what it means to have and not have home, in Houston, Texas, and in Osaka, Japan. It is also a surprising page-turner. The scenes and characters here couldn’t be more alive and vivid. I love this book.— Tommy Orange, author of There, There
Bryan Washington is an expert in illuminating the way we love. Memorial perfectly captures the lives lived in-between what we do and what we say, what we need and what we allow ourselves to have. It is a beautiful heartbreak.— Mira Jacob, author of Good Talk
Tender like a bruise, Memorial is a novel of uncommon depth and feeling. It is about everything that matters in life: love, loss, community and communion. Bryan Washington will take your breath away.— Katie Kitamura, author of A Separation
Praise for Lot
“Washington’s subtle, dynamic and flexible stories play out across [Houston’s] sprawling and multiethnic neighborhoods… An alert and often comic observer of the world… Washington cracks open a vibrant, polyglot side of Houston about which few outsiders are aware… [T]here is a fair amount of joy in Washington’s stories… An underthrob of emotion beats inside them. He’s confident enough not to force the action. The stories feel loose, their cellular juices free to flow.— Dwight Garner, New York Times
This is a story collection that feels like a novel—not because the characters return throughout the book, but because Washington’s astute world-building creates an ever widening scope of Houston that imprints itself on the mind and the psyche. He has such an incredible skill at texturizing people and their histories through each story that the two elements feel consequential to each other. It’s a treat and an inspiration to witness.— Ocean Vuong, GQ
[S]tunning… Lot paints an unforgettable picture of Houston and the people who call it home…. It’s hard to overstate what an accomplishment Lot is…. Washington does a brilliant job making the city come to life in all its imperfect glory. His book is an instant classic of Texas literature, but it’s more than that — it’s a stunning work of art from a young writer with immense talent and a rare sense of compassion, and one of the strongest literary debuts in several years.— NPR
[F]unny, sad, wise & very alive in the best way.— Curtis Sittenfeld (Twitter)
Audacious… A profound exploration of the true meaning of borders, written very much for and about our current cultural moment….Washington is a one-man border-eradicating crew…. There’s a knowing grin of local familiarity here, yet Washington also manages to present this melancholy, jolly story in the voice of a collective ‘we’ that renders the collection universal.— Luis Alberto Urrea, The New York Times Book Review
This eagerly awaited short-story collection, excerpted in The New Yorker to much fanfare, depicts its author’s hometown of Houston with empathy, tragedy, and exceptional specificity.— Entertainment Weekly
Washington’s debut reads like a love letter to Houston.— New York Times
Lot is Bryan Washington’s debut book, and like…where has he been my whole life?! This collection of stories—all of which take place in Houston—is absolutely gut-wrenching and powerful, and will immediately transport you out of whatever bubble you’re living in.— Cosmopolitan
Bryan Washington makes his already much-lauded debut with Lot, a collection of extraordinary short stories set in and across the city of Houston that thrum with vitality and authenticity and are peopled with characters yearning for connection.— Southern Living
A dynamic portrait of Houston and the people who live there.— Time
Lot spills over with life — funny, tender, and profane…. Washington takes characters often consigned to the literary margins and drags them to the center — not as exotic objects of curiosity but as whole human beings, messy and defiant and drawn in full, vibrant color.— Entertainment Weekly
A technicolor portrait of the city, revealing both its seediness and its enchantment. Lot‘s great gift is bringing into the light those who live in the shadows.— O, the Oprah Magazine
The kind of stories I am always longing to read. I love the urgency, honesty, and vitality of Washington’s voice. I love these characters for where they’re from, and where they’re going, what they know, and what they reveal about trouble and love.— Justin Torres, author of We the Animals
A brilliant display of raw talent, with gut-punching stories that deliver with a lasting force. This is the literature that I’ve been waiting for.— Nicole Dennis-Benn, author of Here Comes the Sun
Lot will affect you the way that cherished and, sometimes, painful memories do, with a quality like haunting, a sense that the encounter you’ve had is undeniably real and will stay with you for a very long time. What a thrill to inhabit—to live in, to navigate—the stories and people that make up Bryan Washington’s powerful debut.— —amel Brinkley, author of A Lucky Man
What a book. This is a generous, powerful, deeply engrossing collection of stories that will crack open your heart then put it back together again. Lot is indelible, and Bryan Washington is an important new talent.— R.O. Kwon, author of The Incendiaries
Lot is the confession of a neighborhood, channeled through a literary prodigy. Bryan Washington doesn’t render a world, he actually captures one, grabs it out of reality and holds it up for you to see it sparkle. Unflinching, romantic while refusing to romanticize, this is the debut of a prodigious talent.— Mat Johnson, author of Loving Day and Pym
Bryan Washington’s voice has risen blazingly from Houston and now commands us to pay attention. Lot is as raw, soulful and moving as a story collection can get. It’s my favorite fiction debut of the year.— Jami Attenberg, New York Times bestselling author of The Middlesteins and All Grown Up
Bryan Washington gets Houston down on the page in a way I haven’t seen before; the city, in his hands, is revealed in all its strange and righteous glory, a fresh sense of youth that’s a pleasure to read. Bryan is a thrilling new voice in American fiction and one to watch.— Amelia Gray, author of Isadora and Gutshot
A sensitive portrait of life among Houston’s struggling working class…. Washington writes with an assurance that signals the arrival of an important literary voice.— Kirkus
“Stellar… Washington is exact and empathetic, and the character that emerges is refreshingly unapologetic about his sexuality, even as it creates rifts in his family…. Washington is a dynamic writer with a sharp eye for character, voice, and setting. This is a remarkable collection from a writer to watch.— Publishers Weekly (STARRED review)
Books by Bryan Washington
Media About Bryan Washington
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- Bryan Washington travels from Houston, Texas
Memorial is a true page-turner. I was entranced, picking this book up every chance I got. Bryan Washington is a great writer and I love the story he tells here. Intriguing. Each character stays with me. –Jacqueline Woodson, author of Red At the Bone and Another Brooklyn