The Night Parade - Jami Nakamura Lin - Keeping Up With The Penguins
Buy The Night Parade here
(affiliate link)

The easiest way to get me to pick up a new release is to liken it to one of my favourite books. That’s why, when my friends at Scribe promised me that The Night Parade was like Carmen Maria Machado’s In The Dream House, I jumped at the chance to get my hands on a copy for review.

The blurb goes on to explain that The Night Parade combines fable, culture, memory, art, legacy, and legend to tell Jami Nakamura Lin’s story, of mental illness and grief after the loss of her father. Before you even get to the first chapter, you’ll be stunned by the beauty of this hardback, and the illustrations by the author’s sister, Cori Nakamura Lin.

I found The Night Parade less familiar than Machado’s work, because Lin is writing to very different cultural reference points and touchstones. She draws from her heritage as a Japanese Taiwanese American woman, using the folklore of the yokai (supernatural creatures) to describe her experience of bipolar disorder and anticipatory grief. So, reading it landed somewhere between Machado and Sayaka Murata for me, with shades of Maggie Nelson and Susanna Cahalan.

Lin offers remarkable insight, her academic understanding of both illness and narrative informing an unusually keen self-awareness. Her experience of mental illness defies the story we’re comfortable with (“things were bad, then they got better, now I am healed and strong”), and she doesn’t shy away from that. Using the traditional Japanese narrative structure (four acts), she tells a different story, one that’s perhaps more true and realistic, but challenging to read at times.

Buy The Night Parade on Booktopia here. (affiliate link)