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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction

     

Parade

by
Yoshida Shuichi


general information | review summaries | our review | links | about the author

To purchase Parade



Title: Parade
Author: Yoshida Shuichi
Genre: Novel
Written: 2002 (Eng. 2014)
Length: 230 pages
Original in: Japanese
Availability: Parade - US
Parade - UK
Parade - Canada
Parade - India
Parade - France
  • Japanese title: パレード
  • Translated by Philip Gabriel
  • Parade was made into a film in 2009, directed by Yukisada Isao

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Our Assessment:

B+ : effective tale of a slice of (near-)contemporary Japanese life

See our review for fuller assessment.




Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
The Guardian . 21/3/2014 Laura Wilson
New Statesman . 28/3/2014 Yo Zushi
TLS . 11/4/2014 Alexandra Lawrie


  From the Reviews:
  • "So far, so creepy, but unfortunately, not enough else happens. It's a sharply observed slice of urban alienation, but, unlike Yoshida's wonderful Villain (written later, but published in the UK in 2010), Parade simply doesn't have enough of the right kind of narrative welly to develop into a crime novel." - Laura Wilson, The Guardian

  • "(A) curious entry into the canon of Japanese anomie literature. (...) Parade shows us a world where disconnection has become a paralysing norm. The characters here are not interested in interpersonal bonds, tele­pathic or otherwise. (...) Parade’s chilling denouement is all the more disturbing because the first 200 or so pages are committed to exploring the trivialities of city life -- choosing which movie to rent, which takeaway meal to get for dinner." - Yo Zushi, New Statesman

  • "Although this feels for the most part like an authentic exploration of everyday life in contemporary Japan, some of the dialogue doesn't ring true (a fault, at times, of Philip Gabriel's rather too faithful translation). (...) The oddest thing, however, about a book that is marketed as a crime novel, is that there is no apparent crime until ten pages from the end. Vague, underlying tension pervades the narrative throughout, yet when the crime does eventually take place it feels tacked on, tangentially related to the story that precedes it." - Alexandra Lawrie, Times Literary Supplement

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

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The complete review's Review:

       Most of the characters in Parade seem adrift. They have found a tenuous stability in their living arrangement -- four twenty-somethings sharing an apartment -- but they seem just as likely to drift away, much in the way they came to this loose arrangement. Originally the apartment of Naoki and his girlfriend, Misaki, they invited Misaki's friend Mirai to move in; while Naoki and Misaki broke up and Misaki moved out, Mirai stayed and meanwhile Ryosuke and Koto also moved in. And even Misaki occasionally still shows up to spend the night on the sofa, getting away from her much older boyfriend.
       Parade is presented in five sections, each narrated in turn by one of the four roommates, as well as one narrated by teen Satoru, another waif who is brought to the apartment by one of the roommates and who sticks around. The story proceeds chronologically, but each new perspective reveals more about the household and the background of the characters. The first section, narrated by Ryosuke, barely mentions any of the roommates aside from Koto, but then the intersections of the lives of the four (and then the five) increasingly come to the fore.
       Twenty-one year old Ryosuke is a college student; the son of a sushi chef, he has a part-time job as a cook in a Mexican restaurant -- a ridiculous position he's entirely unsuited for but stumbles into (just as most of these characters seem to stumble into most aspects of their lives). He falls desperately in love with one of his friends' girlfriends and pursues her; as with all the relationships in the novel, a loose but intimate one develops, behind the friend's back.
       Koto followed her one-time boyfriend to Tokyo in a spur of the moment decision. He is now a rising star, with a role on a TV soap opera, and all Koto does is wait for him to call -- which he occasionally does, summoning her for quick get-togethers at a love-hotel when his tight schedule allows.
       Mirai manages a store, but wants to be an artist; she also drinks a great, great deal. And Naoki, the oldest in the group, works for a film distributor.
       Early on, Ryosuke admits he doesn't want his roommates to see the:

sentimental and serious side of me. Our living arrangement works because we avoid those situations. Life goes smoothly with us because we limit ourselves to acceptable topics, skipping what we'd really like to talk about.
       Of course, there's a lot bubbling right under the surface of each of these characters, and what tension the novel offers comes from seeing just what will boil over -- or explode. Yoshida is slow and deliberate in revealing just what is going on, raising the tension by planting ideas but then repeatedly revealing them to not be quite as ominous as expected -- until, of course, they are.
       Life isn't idyllic, but it is fairly comfortable for the four roommates. They have their suspicions about the apartment next door, where something strange seems to be going on, and hatch a plan to discover just what nefarious activity is going on there, but that certainly doesn't work out quite as expected. And midway through the book policeman show up -- warning residents that there have been attacks on women in the neighborhood recently, a man attacking them from behind and bashing them in the face.
       The appearance of Satoru unbalances the household. First of all, they're initially confused about how he even got there -- his arrival is a nice comic mix-up -- but then they come to feel protective of the young hustler who basically has been living on the streets, turning tricks (though they remain vague as to what exactly his 'job' is for decorum's sake). Street-wise Satoru turns out to be more curious about others' lives than the roommates seem to be. In the section he narrates, he describes breaking into an apartment and spending some time there; he also roots around in the roommates' stuff, and his interference does anger one of them very much.
       When he settles in, Mirai thinks:
I do think I'm a good judge of people. I don't think Satoru's going to cause me, Naoki, Koto, or Ryosuke any trouble.
       Yes, Yoshida knows how to play with raising the tension just the right amount -- and he also has a fine feel for the misdirect .....
       Koto notes that their life together is like in an Internet chat-room (recall, too, that this is a 2002 novel ...), and:
this apartment we're living in is the same sort of space. If you don't like it, all you have to do is leave. And if you stay, you've got to be happy. We're human beings, so of course there's a mix of goodwill and hatred in all of us. I think Mirai and Naoki and Ryosuke are all trying to put on a good face. We're definitely what you'd call superficial acquaintances. But for me, this is perfect.
       Of course, this is all building to something, and what that is is perhaps inevitable. Unfortunately, the denouement doesn't quite fit in the flow of narrative and the story; you can see what Yoshida was after -- and he seems to be on the right track -- but it doesn't work quite as well as one might have hoped for. Still, it's a pretty effective, chilling turn.
       Parade isn't really a thriller, or rather, it's a limited thriller: Yoshida keeps the tension simmering nicely all along, but the appeal of the novel is not in how things turn out but rather in the seemingly everyday until then. Yoshida's narrators, so careful in what they say and reveal to each other, each have their secrets and their failings, each of which bubble to the surface at some point, even if their true depths are largely only hinted at (as in Mirai's very, very creepy videotape). The story builds best to its understated points -- Ryosuke breaking down crying, Koto's address labels for her three boxes of belongings, to be: "sent from her to herself" -- and the big reveal is jarring in comparison.
       Parade is an impressive, disturbing novel of a generation at sea and a contemporary Japan in which true, intimate relationships remain almost impossible to achieve. It doesn't work completely, the ending in a sense falling a bit flat, but the story-telling, characterization, and the way Yoshida unfolds his story are very good indeed.

- M.A.Orthofer, 26 April 2014

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Links:

Parade: Reviews: Parade - the film: Yoshida Shuichi: Other books by Yoshida Shuichi under review: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       Japanese author Yoshida Shuichi (吉田 修一) was born in 1968.

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© 2014 the complete review

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