The Night Parade
a speculative memoir
by Jami Nakamura Lin (illus. Cori Nakamura Lin)
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Pub Date 26 Oct 2023 | Archive Date 30 Sep 2023
In the groundbreaking tradition of In the Dream House and The Collected Schizophrenias, a gorgeously illustrated lyrical memoir that draws upon the Japanese myth of the Hyakki Yagyō — the Night Parade of One Hundred Demons — to shift the cultural narrative around mental illness, grief, and remembrance.
Are these the only two stories? The one where you defeat your monster, and the other where you succumb to it?
Jami Nakamura Lin spent much of her life feeling monstrous for reasons outside of her control. As a Japanese Taiwanese American woman with undiagnosed bipolar disorder, her adolescence was marked by periods of extreme rage and self-medicating, an ever-evolving array of psychiatric treatments, and her relationships with those she loved — especially her father — suffered as a result.
Frustrated with the tidy arc of the typical mental illness memoir, the kind whose trajectory leads toward being ‘better’, Lin sought comfort in the Japanese folklore she’d loved as a child, tales of supernatural creatures known to terrify in the night. Through the lens of the yōkai and other East Asian mythology, she set out to interrogate the Western notion of conflict and resolution, grief, loss, mental illness, and the myriad ways fear of difference shapes who we are as a people.
Divided into four acts in the traditional Japanese narrative structure and featuring stunning watercolour illustrations, Jami Nakamura Lin has crafted an innovative, genre-bending, and deeply emotional memoir that mirrors the sensation of being caught between worlds. Braiding her experience of mental illness, the death of her father, and other haunted topics with the folkloric tradition, The Night Parade shines a light into dark corners in search of a new way, driven by the question: How do we learn to live with the things that haunt us?
‘The Night Parade is a stunning excavation of personal and collective histories, filled with the endless alchemy of storytelling. Jami Nakamura Lin writes with meditative precision and expansive empathy, challenging and reaffirming what communal stories can make possible. Exploring the many worlds that flourish beyond certain knowledge, this boundary-blurring memoir finds power in the undefinable. It reveals to us that the fracturing of a story can be beautifully fruitful. Teeming with language that is transformative and fully embodied, and gorgeously illustrated by Cori Nakamura Lin, The Night Parade is a generous and abundant feast for our living and our dead, our salvaged lineages, and our continuing stories.’ – K-Ming Chang, award-winning author of Bestiary
Jami Nakamura Lin has reinvented the genre of memoir, weaving an intricate braid of fable, memory, art, cultural legacy, and legend into a gorgeous tapestry of the stories that made her. The haunting illustrations by her sister, Cori Nakamura Lin, are a potent reminder that no one is self-authored. We all collaborate to become ourselves. Serpentine, polyphonic, and stunningly textured, The Night Parade positively pulses with life.’ – Alex Marzano-Lesnevich, award-winning author of The Fact of A Body
‘A gorgeous invocation of the magic-haunted spaces between lived experience and folkloric traditions, between the living and the dead, between memory and story. I loved The Night Parade.’ – Kelly Link, bestselling author of Get in Trouble
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 1 member
Quirky, heart-felt, and beautifully written, I really enjoyed this memoir. Once I'd got used to the hesitant and intensely self-reflective writing style, which echoes the ebb and flow of the author's thoughts and emotions, I was able to engage with her experiences on a profound level. I love how she filters her experiences of her bipolar illness and the death of her father through the lens of Japanese folklore - this book is also gorgeously illustrated with images of the figures from folklore to which the author relates. The language is poetic, wistful, melancholic, and entirely conveys Jami's state of mind. I really enjoyed the way she engages with the concept of story telling and the way she removes herself from the telling of her own story, creating a subtle meta-ness in the narrative. Her love for her family and its history is touching and the sections about Japanese folklore are fascinating. It's just a beautiful reading experience.