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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction


Kawakami Hiromi

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To purchase Parade

Title: Parade
Author: Kawakami Hiromi
Genre: Story
Written: 2002 (Eng. 2019)
Length: 79 pages
Original in: Japanese
Availability: Parade - US
Parade - UK
Parade - Canada
  • A Folktale
  • Japanese title: パレード
  • With an Afterword by the author
  • Translated by Allison Markin Powell
  • Illustrated by Yoshitomi Takako

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Our Assessment:

B : appealing small companion-piece to Strange Weather in Tokyo

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
Publishers Weekly . 15/8/2019 .

  From the Reviews:
  • "Part fairy tale, in which some readers will discern a moral, part gentle reminiscence of childhood’s passing miracles and memorable pains, Kawakami’s compact novel is gentle, charming and smart, as "pretty ... and sad" as the sparkling touches of the tengu." - Publishers Weekly

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:

       Parade is a slim companion-piece to Kawakami's novel, Strange Weather in Tokyo, again featuring Tsukiko and Sensei.
       In an Afterword, Kawakami describes how, even after she is finished with a work:

As time goes by, I find myself thinking again about a certain story. I wonder, Is that world really over and done with ?
       In Parade she imagines another scene between the two characters from her novel -- "a day that Tsukiko and Sensei spent together in early summer. On another day, presumably they passed their time differently". The spark is simple, Kawakami beginning her tale with Sensei asking of Tsukiko: "Tell me a story from long ago" -- though Tsukiko doesn't immediately launch into one. They are preparing a meal, and the distractions of that still preöccupy them. Indeed, they eat and even nap before Tsukiko gets around to telling a story -- and even as she does, the narrative doesn't simply shift completely to that, but rather slips back to her and Sensei and their reactions repeatedly, a constant reminder of the contrast between past and memory on the one hand, and the present.
       Tsukiko's tale also opens with the transition from sleeping -- and dreaming -- to waking state, as she recalls her childhood and the time she woke to find two creatures -- with: "human bodies, red faces with long noses, and wings" -- making a lot of noise there. They are tengu -- spirit creatures --, and while young Tsukiko is worried how her mother will react to these two creatures having suddenly appeared and attached themselves to her, her mother takes them completely in stride. So also when she meets her friends and then at school, Tsukiko is surprised to find her classmates hardly reacting to these two creatures following her around; indeed, several of her classmates also have creatures, of different sorts, attached to them -- only now revealed to Tsukiko, now that she has her own.
       Her mother admits having had a creature attached to her in childhood too -- a fox -- but won't say how long it's been since it left her: "That's a secret". These companion-creatures, almost a variation on imaginary friends, are like a rite of passage. They provide support, but can also, at times, be somewhat of an annoyance; they have some will of their own, and can be difficult to understand or communicate with. They are a sort of childhood crutch, clearly, temporary but certainly seeming very real for that time; Tsukiko doesn't describe when and how she lost hers, but presumably they simply fade away or disappear at some point when a child has outgrown them and the need for them.
       In Tsukiko's case, one of her tengus at one point also gets ill -- just when another girl in class is being picked on, by being ostracized, something Tsukiko doesn't actively participate in but also does little to counter, even though she also sees the girl at the local abacus school they attend together. That girl, Yuko, does not have any creature attached to her -- but appreciates and accepts Tsukiko's unseen-by-her tengo as real. Kawakami neatly imagines and presents the awkwardness of the two girls in their interactions in this all too typical adolescent situation, with the tengus a nice additional touch to it.
       Tsukiko, too, won't reveal how long her tengu stayed with her. Her small tale leaves much unspoken and open, but is also a touching one of childhood connection and (flailing) understanding, the present-day perspective that the narrative repeatedly returns to easily preventing it from sinking into the too-maudlin, while still being effectively affecting.
       Gossamer-light, Parade is an appealing little fiction, with Yoshitomi Takako's illustrations a nice layer of padding to the tale. And while it is a sort of supplement-volume to Kawakami's novel, it stands easily and well on its own too.

- M.A.Orthofer, 20 October 2019

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Parade: Reviews: Other books by Kawakami Hiromi under review: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       Japanese author Kawakami Hiromi (川上 弘美) was born in 1958.

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© 2019-2023 the complete review

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