Sunday 18 October 2020

Book Review: Parade by Kawakami Hiromi (Contemporary Fiction)

Title: Parade
Author: Kawakami Hiromi
Publisher: Soft Skull Press
Publication Date: 2019 (2004)
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Source: Borrowed from the Library

A brief, disquieting companion to the bestselling Strange Weather in Tokyo, set during a summer afternoon and featuring a mischievous pair of creatures called tengu.

On a summer afternoon, Tsukiko and her former high school teacher have prepared and eaten somen noodles together.

“Tell me a story from long ago,” Sensei says.

“I wasn’t alive long ago,” Tsukiko says, “but should I tell you a story from when I was little?”

“Please do,” Sensei replies, and so Tsukiko tells him that, when she was a child, she awakened one day to find something with a pale red face and something with a dark red face in her room, arguing with each other. They had human bodies, long noses, and wings. They were tengu, creatures that appear in Japanese folktales.

The tengu attach themselves to Tsukiko and begin to follow her everywhere. Where did they come from and why are they here? And what other invisible and unacknowledged forces are acting upon Tsukiko’s seemingly peaceful world?


It was fun to return to the two main characters from Strange Weather in Tokyo is this little novella. Parade is a short but memorable story that imagines an afternoon shared by Tsukiko and Sensei in which they relax over a meal and Tsukiko tells a story from her childhood. The prose was whimsical and imaginative, and the story she told was engaging and fun. You probably don't have to have read Strange Weather in Tokyo to appreciate this tale, but I think it would help, in order to understand the relationship between Tsukiko and Sensei. Parade is a fine example of Kawakami's dreamlike prose style and magical storytelling.

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