“Lot” by Bryan Washington might be my favorite read of 2019 so far. Not only is it a perfect visual representation of Houston but also it focuses on everything from race to poverty to sexual identity. I was able to fully identify with this creative work because I’m a Afro-Latina that lives in Houston. However, I believe anyone from anywhere can enjoy this collection of short stories.
If you’ve never read a book that takes place in your hometown then this is the perfect book for Houstonians to start with. This a book for the queers, the latinos, the blacks, the lost and confused, the Houston lovers, the ones who are struggling, and the hurting mothers.
In “Lot”, we get a series of short stories that focus on our main character, a young, queer black Latino. We don’t learn his name till the last pages of the book. He lives with his loving black mother, his absent Latino father, his uncaring sister, and his homophobic brother Javi. Throughout their journey, we watch the family grow apart as they’re all pulled away from their own personal life-callings.
Javi enlists in the army, his father moves out of the house, his mother moves back with her family, and it leaves the youngest by himself in the house where he is faced with his own demons.
However, we get other stories in this collection as well. We watch a woman in Alief cheat on her husband with a white man and the whole neighborhood is in on it. We get a story about four young men who support themselves by pimping themselves out. We learn about how Harvey impacted the city because of its life-changing flooding. We even get a story about a chupacabra.
There were moments where I felt myself wanting to cry. Not because anything was particularly too sad but because each story resonates with the reader. These stories become a part of you and you feel the weight of the each one.
“Lot” is important in representing those that don’t often get to have their stories told. It explores the identities and struggles we’re not used to reading or seeing or hearing about. It brings these subjects to light and shows us that we’re not alone.
It’s still hard for me to believe that “Lot” is Bryan Washington’s first book. His stories are perfectly told and brilliantly crafted. It makes me excited to see what he has in store for us next. You can read other solo pieces of his work here.
If you from Houston, you can find “Lot” in the Brazos bookstore. If not, you can find it here. I would recommend this book to everyone I know.