Virtual Event: Bryan Washington and Simon Han
Nights When Nothing Happened:
November 18, 2020
7:00 PM ET
Join our online event (or pre-register) via the link in the event description.
Free - $5 contribution suggested at registration
Harvard Book Store's virtual event series welcomes BRYAN WASHINGTON— a National Book Award 5 Under 35 honoree and author of the award-winning story collection, Lot— and celebrated writer SIMON HAN for a discussion of their debut, highly anticipated novels, Memorial and Nights When Nothing Happened.
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While payment is not required, we are suggesting a $3 contribution to support this author series, our staff, and the future of Harvard Book Store—a locally owned, independently run Cambridge institution. In addition, by purchasing a copy of Memorial and Nights When Nothing Happened on harvard.com, you support indie bookselling and the writing community during this difficult time.
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 goodbye. 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.
About Nights When Nothing Happened
From the outside, the Chengs seem like so-called model immigrants. Once Patty landed a tech job near Dallas, she and Liang grew secure enough to have a second child, and to send for their first from his grandparents back in China. Isn’t this what they sacrificed so much for? But then little Annabel begins to sleepwalk at night, putting into motion a string of misunderstandings that not only threaten to set their community against them but force to the surface the secrets that have made them fear one another. How can a man make peace with the terrors of his past? How can a child regain trust in unconditional love? How can a family stop burying its history and forge a way through it, to a more honest intimacy?
Nights When Nothing Happened is gripping storytelling immersed in the crosscurrents that have reshaped the American landscape, from a prodigious new literary talent.
Praise for Memorial
“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
“Memorial is a tour de force, truly unlike anything I've read before. Bryan Washington's take on love, family, and responsibility is as complicated and true as life itself. I can't stop thinking about it.” —Ann Patchett, author of Bel Canto
“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
Praise for Nights When Nothing Happened
"A tender, spiky family saga about love in all its mysterious incarnations. Simon Han is a wonderfully adventurous and sensitive writer." —Lorrie Moore
“In this beautiful, unsettling novel, Simon Han captures the state of being awake and yet asleep, of belonging and yet not, of waiting for the moment when the world opens up. With the turn of a crystalline sentence, he reveals how fragile we are, and what it takes to survive. An unbelievable debut." —Kevin Wilson, author of Nothing to See Here and The Family Fang
"In his beautifully written debut novel, Simon Han takes a keen look at immigration, family and love. Insightful and poignant." —Jean Kwok, author of Searching for Sylvie Lee
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