Video from our latest reading, plus five incredible essays...

Welcome back to Memoir Monday—a weekly newsletter and a quarterly reading series, brought to you by NarrativelyThe RumpusCatapultGrantaGuernica, and Literary Hub. Each personal essay in this newsletter has been selected by the editors at the above publications as the best of the week, delivered to you all in one place. 

We’re considering ways to expand aspects of this newsletter in the near future. Subscribe and follow us on Twitter at @memoirmonday for updates!

In a World Without Sushi

by Juhea Kim (mages: Luigi Pozzoli and Brandon on Unsplash)

"Then in my junior year of high school, my father used the last of his savings to buy Sushiville on NW 23rd Avenue. Though the restaurant was just as unrelated to his background as his other schemes, it struck me as much more impressive. The historic avenue of high-end boutiques and restaurants in century-old houses was a world away from our apartment in the suburbs. The trees in front of Sushiville were draped in twinkle lights that glimmered fashionably year-round. My father put up a new sign, and I designed the A-board that stood on the sidewalk, promising sushi “so delicious, it melts in your mouth.” (My first writing job, unpaid of course.) We were full of hope—we finally had something of our own."

Read more at Guernica

How Domestic Violence Victims’ Advocacy Works in an Insular Island Community

by Hanna Halperin

"Violence and trauma have a smell. Whether it’s sweat or blood or stress or a mixture of those things or others, I’m not sure, but it was myself I was smelling, too. The most important thing was to be there with her. It’s an intimate, bodily experience to be beside someone during something like that. We talked when there was time—during the moments in-between doctors and exams and questions—in a hospital room, on a hallway bench, leaning over paperwork in a foyer. We would plan for what came next. Many times these plans were imperfect and temporary."

Read more at LitHub

Cherry Blossom Girl

by Julie Chang (Rumpus original art by Susan Ito. )

"Watch me, Ahmma! I’m middle-aged but I’ve got the wisdom of a ten-year-old girl who thinks she deserves the world and all its fruits, pleasures, and protection. I’m middle-aged but I’ve got the heart of proud, hardened elder who insists on triumphing."

Read more at The Rumpus

Some Trouble 

by Sharlene Teo (Image © mk_is_here)

"The first time I felt like I was really in trouble, I was working as a waitress in a German sausage pub. Over fifteen years have passed since I saw the woman I associate with that trouble crying into her pork knuckles. Of course I cannot remember her face. But right now, on a rare, sunny afternoon in lockdown London, I wonder how she’s doing. She certainly won’t remember me. I’m just a background blip in the unknowable reel of her own memories."

Read more at Granta

The Impossible Ideals of the 'Writer's Life'

by Tabitha Blankenbiller (Photograph by Tyler Callahan/Unsplash)

"I did not write for days, weeks, months at a time. I sat with questions I wouldn’t have admitted before for fear of cursing myself: What if I never write another book? What if I only create what I want, when I feel compelled, for no other reason than I have something I have to say?"

Read more at a Catapult


Last week’s quarterly Memoir Monday reading—the last all-virtual event!—was great. It featured readings from Anjali Enjeti, Lilly Dancyger, Larissa Pham, and Krys Malcolm Belc. If you missed it, you can check out the video recording of the event here.


Thanks for reading! If you enjoy Memoir Monday, please consider making a one-time or recurring contribution (if even a fraction of subscribers signed up to contribute $1 per month, Memoir Monday could be self-sustaining!) by clicking here.

You can also support Memoir Monday—and indie bookstores!—by browsing this Bookshop.org list of every book that’s been featured at the Memoir Monday reading series. It’s a great place to find some new titles to add to your TBR list!


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