Bryan Washington, Riverhead Books, October 27

Narrated in alternating sections by Mike and Benson, a mixed-race couple living in Houston’s Third Ward, Washington’s first novel explores love, forgiveness, estranged parents, and the power of meals to connect people. (In addition to penning fiction, Washington frequently writes about food for the New Yorker.) The story picks up soon after the two men have a fight; Mike flies to Osaka to visit his dying father, leaving Benson to manage his own father’s worsening alcoholism. Like Lot, Washington’s acclaimed 2019 debut collection of Houston-set short stories, Memorial brims with subtle moments that reveal its characters’ humanity and passion.

—Richard Z. Santos


Natalia Sylvester, Clarion Books

A pivotal moment in Austin writer Sylvester’s inspiring young adult novel Running involves actual running. Fifteen-year-old Cuban American Mariana Ruiz finds herself reluctantly pulled into her father’s presidential campaign, and as the pressure to play the role of the perfect “first daughter” intensifies, she flees. But Mari can get only so far before realizing that she can’t escape the truth: the man she believed her father to be is very different from the politician he actually is. Doyin Oyeniyi

Standoff: Race, Policing, and a Deadly Assault That Gripped a Nation

Jamie Thompson, Henry Holt & Co.

On July 7, 2016, during a Dallas protest against police brutality, a gunman ambushed a group of police officers, leaving five dead and eleven injured. Veteran journalist Thompson pulls the reader deeply into the night’s events by switching among key players, including the mayor, a trauma surgeon trying to save lives, and, most movingly, the police department hostage negotiator who spends hours bonding with the doomed gunman. —R.Z.S.

This article originally appeared in the November 2020 issue of Texas Monthly with the headline “Three Good Reads.” Subscribe today.