Review of Parade by Shūichi Yoshida

ISBN 0307454932 (ISBN13: 9780307454935)

Parade is a seamy novel by a Japanese novelist. 

It does not fit nicely into the “crime novel” formula. Its characters do not care if you are staring at them in horror and fascination. Its plot is not concerned with your level of patience. Though it has a similar texture to Natsuo Kirino’s gritty murder books, it is quieter, and couldn’t have made less noise as it slid into English translation. Where are all the other translations of Yoshida? There is also a book called Villain. But Parade was my introduction to his work. Villain was a nice after dinner snack. It was damn good, but it did not keep me thinking about it for days afterward, as did this little gem.

I do not feel the need to analyze the character motivations, the atmosphere, the literary style or the intense disturbing quality of this book. (I do feel the need to reread it.) I would rather encourage you to discover it yourself. It is one of my favorite novels from Japan – and I’ve read a fair amount of them. But picking it apart would ruin the point. I didn’t feel like examining Ryu Murakami’s literary intentions when I read In the Miso Soup. I just wanted to witness a breathtaking cinematic gore-infused nightmare. This one beats Kirino hands down. It throws down the gauntlet when set beside bad-boy Ryu. But who ever talks about Shuichi Yoshida? The writing is not as polished as Ryu Murakami’s but the atmospheric conditions of the novel are comparable. Yoshida has the casual, almost careless style of a crime writer, but somehow manages to wipe the floor with Seichō Matsumoto. If you liked Matsumoto’s A Quiet Place, this will also tickle your fancy, but it’ll be more of a deep-tissue massage, maybe blunt force trauma. Expect the unexpected in the third act. Try to be bored; I dare you. This is another Japanese writer writing whatever the hell he wants, and my eyes are begging for more.

The only other things of his in English I’ve found is obviously Villain and a beautiful short story in The Book of Tokyo: A City in Short Fiction If you know of any other English stories in existence please let me know. I can tell Yoshida has what it takes to give Murakami a run for his money as my favorite novel-producing machine currently in Japan. I’m sorry, Keigo Higashino, but I’m just not that into you. Can we get some translations over here?

I admire when a writer deviates boldly. Subversion. Scare tactics. All the required ingredients of escapism are present here. Like Murakami’s work, it is super easy to relate to these characters. They are young, of course, bored, dissatisfied, opinionated, ever so slightly witty, libidinous, angst-ridden – apply whatever adjective you will. In the end, there is plot, there is character development, but the intricacies congeal into an amorphous whole. I could live in this novel for a while. And I know I will revisit it. Slip into the shady, retro, bleak and quirky Tokyo Yoshida provides. Dark secrets abound in this singular work of subtle and not-so subtle inter-character relations. See if it haunts you like it does me.

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