The Harry Belafonte Black Liberation Speaker Series: Bryan Washington with Vinson Cunningham

Wed. Dec 2, 2020 8:00pm - 9:00pm EST
All Ages
All Ages
  • Reserve
  • Details
Event Stats
All Ages
Event Description

The winner of the Library's 2020 Young Lions Fiction Award discusses the tale of love, vulnerability, alienation, family, and separation at the heart of his first novel, Memorial.

Bryan Washington's short-story collection, Lot, was the finalist for countless prizes and received wide acclaim, including landing on President Obama's list of favorite books in 2019. His long-awaited first novel, Memorial, explores a floundering relationship between two young men struggling to figure out how—or whether—to keep it alive. Mike, a Japanese American chef at a Mexican restaurant, and Benson, a Black daycare teacher, are in love—but is that enough? Can they survive the simultaneous arrival of Mike's acerbic mother, Mitsuko, and Mike's sudden departure to Osaka to say a prolonged goodbye to his dying, estranged father? While Mike is having a transformative experience in Japan, how can Benson find similar growth back home in Houston and also figure out how to live with his new roommate, Mitsuko?

Bryan Washington discusses the complications of love and family with The New Yorker staff writer Vinson Cunningham

The Harry Belafonte Black Liberation Speaker Series is made possible thanks to support from Kenneth Cole.

LIVE from NYPL is made possible by the support of Library patrons and friends, as well as by the continuing generosity of Celeste Bartos, Mahnaz Ispahani Bartos and Adam Bartos, and the Margaret and Herman Sokol Public Education Endowment Fund.

Bryan Washington
is a National Book Award 5 Under 35 honoree, and winner of the Dylan Thomas Prize, the Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence, and The New York Public Library Young Lions Fiction Award. His first book, the story collection Lot, was a finalist for the NBCC's John Leonard Prize, the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize, and The Aspen Words Literary Prize. Lot was a New York Times Notable Book, one of Dwight Garner's top ten books of the year, and on best-of-the-year lists from Time, NPR, Vanity Fair, BuzzFeed, and many more. He has written for The New Yorker, The New York Times, The New York Times Magazine, BuzzFeed, Vulture, The Paris Review, McSweeney's Quarterly, Tin House, One Story, Bon Appétit, GQ, The Awl, and Catapult. He lives in Houston.

 Vinson Cunningham is a staff writer and theatre critic at The New Yorker. His essays, reviews, and profiles have appeared in The New York Times Magazine, The New York Times Book Review, FADER, Vulture, The Awl, and McSweeney's Internet Tendency. In 2020, he was a finalist for a National Magazine Award in Profile Writing. A former White House staffer, he now teaches an MFA Writing course at Sarah Lawrence College and lives in New York City.


If you have a NYPL library card—or live in New York state and want to apply for one now—you can borrow Memorial for free with our e-reader app SimplyE, available for iOS and Android devices. The title is available in accessible formats for community members who do not use standard print. Find out more at: You can also request this book, and more, for pickup at one of our Grab & Go locations.

Readers everywhere who wish to purchase copies of Memorial can do so at The New York Public Library Shop. Proceeds benefit The New York Public Library. Plus, receive a 125th Anniversary tote bag with your purchase!

This program will be streamed on Zoom and simulcast to YouTube. You must register with your email address in order to receive the link to participate. Please check your email shortly before the discussion to receive the link. Captions for this event will be provided. 

Please send all press inquiries (photo, video, interviews, audio-recording, etc.) at least 24-hours before the day of the program to Sara Beth Joren at

For all other questions and inquiries, please contact

This Program uses a third-party website link. By clicking on the third-party website link, you will leave NYPL’s website and enter a website not operated by NYPL. We encourage you to review the privacy policies of every third-party website or service that you visit or use, including those third parties with whom you interact with through our Library services. For more information about these third-party links, please see the section of NYPL's Privacy Policy describing "Third-Party Library Services Providers" at

During this Program, you will be using third-party platforms such as Zoom and YouTube, for the purpose of communication. This service may collect some personally identifying information about you, such as name, username, email address, & password. This service will treat the information it collects about you pursuant to its own privacy policy, which can be found here: Google Privacy PolicyZoom Privacy PolicyYouTube Privacy Policy.

Bryan Washington © Dailey Hubbard

Reserve Tickets
Sorry, this event has already taken place.