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This is the second novel by Shuichi Yoshida which has been translated into English, following his hugely successful literary thriller, “Villain.” Parade looks at the lives of several young people who share an apartment in Tokyo. There is twenty one year old student, Ryosuke Sugimoto, unemployed twenty three year old Kotomi Okochi, who spends her time waiting for her boyfriend to phone, twenty four year old Mirai Soma, who manages a store, longs to become a successful illustrator and drinks too much and the eldest, twenty eight year old Naoki Uhara, who works for an independent film distributor. This book examines their past, lives and dreams as they each tell their story.

The apartment block the four live in is meant to be for young married couples, so they are wary of complaining about apartment 402, which they suspect of being involved in illegal activity. As well as concerns about their neighbours, they are aware of violent attacks happening to women locally. Then they are joined by a young boy, eighteen year old Satoru Kokubo. Nobody at first seems sure who he is or who invited him to stay, but he is gradually accepted by “these-people-playing-at-being-friends.” Gradually, Satoru changes the delicate balance which has existed within these almost random group of housemates and his story intertwines with theirs. Why is such a young boy living on the streets and how does he earn his living?

Although there are undercurrents of a crime story, this is really more a portrait of a place and the people living there. These are all young people who live in the city of Tokyo, and who have been brought together almost by random events. It is about anonymity, friendship, family and alienation amongst young people. I found it an incredibly fascinating picture of Tokyo, especially the younger generation who exist on the margins of society and the fact that so many people, especially in cities, know so little about their neighbours or friends and have to accept them on face value. I am not sure it worked so well as a thriller, but as a literary novel it was extremely interesting, even if the ending was a little abrupt and I would certainly read more books by this author. Lastly, I received a copy of this book from the publisher, via NetGalley, for review.
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on 23 March 2014
This novel was written before Yoshida's previously published excellent
novel 'Villain', but has only now been published in English.
Five people ,aged between 18-28,share a flat in Tokyo.They each take a
turn narrating events in their lives ,and the apartment.,whilst something
strange is happening in the adjoining dwelling.
This is not so much a crime novel,rather a study in urban alienation,lack
of purpose and disconnectedness.
The paucity of plot is counterbalanced by fine writing.
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on 24 January 2016
Parade is somewhat of a curious book. It is marketed as crime fiction, with a tagline of ‘A masterpiece in tension’, yet crime is almost incidental to the story and there is practically no tension in the story or its telling. Instead, Parade is a literary novel about alienation and estrangement in modern society; of not quite fitting in, of lacking direction and purpose, of desiring what cannot be obtained. While the timeline is linear, each of the chapters is told from the perspective of five people sharing an apartment, each of whom has kind of drifted into living there. Each is told in the first person, with the character reflecting on their own life – their history and ambitions, their relationships with others – and setting out their view of the world. In this way, a wider narrative about the interactions and friendship between the five is examined, as well as Japanese society more broadly. It was a sombre rather than tense read, a kind of literary soap opera of urban alienation which, for the most part, is a thoughtful reflection on modern life.
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on 30 March 2015
"If you break out of this world, you'll find yourself in the same one only one size larger." This tale of 5 young people sharing a flat in Tokyo rattles along growing steadily more atmospheric. Beautifully written.
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Four young people are sharing a small flat in Tokyo, each having drifted there in a casual, unplanned way. Forced into a kind of physical intimacy by this living arrangement, each remains emotionally isolated and, as we discover, damaged to varying degrees by their pasts. Naoki is the eldest and something of a big brother figure to the rest - he originally shared the flat with his girlfriend, who left him for an older man but still pops back to visit and stay in the flat on occasion. Mirai works hard and plays hard, spending her evenings getting drunk in gay bars. Kotomi stays home all day watching TV and waiting for her soap-star boyfriend to ring. Ryosuke is a student and as we meet him he has just fallen in love with the girlfriend of his older friend and mentor. Then one morning a fifth arrives, Satoru - no-one really knows who invited him but in this casual set-up he soon becomes accepted as another flatmate, even though no-one is quite sure who he is or what he does when he works late at night.

Although this is billed as a crime thriller, it really falls much more into the category of literary fiction. There is a crime element but it's almost entirely in the background for most of the book. There's not much plot as such - this is more an examination of the somewhat empty and alienated lives of these young people. Each section of the book is narrated by a different character, so we get to see what they each think of the others and also to find out a bit about what has brought them here and made them who they are.

Whenever I read Japanese fiction, I find it a strangely discombobulating experience - it always seems to reflect a society that is uneasy in its modernity, with a generation of young people who have thrown out the values of their elders but haven't really found a way to replace them satisfactorily. There is always a sensation of drifting, of free-fall almost, and a kind of passivity that leaves me feeling as if there's a dangerous void in the culture, waiting to be filled. But since I don't know anything about Japan except through their fiction, I don't know whether this is just a style of writing or whether it's an accurate picture of the society.

I find Yoshida's writing quite compelling and although I don't always feel that I understand why his characters are as they are, I find them believable and fully rounded. The somewhat shocking ending of this one took me completely by surprise, and at first I felt almost as if the author hadn't played fair with me. But a few days on I find the book is still running through my mind and I am seeing in retrospect what was hidden during the reading - which means that my appreciation for the ending has grown as I've gained a little distance from it.

Although this shares a translator, Philip Gabriel, with Yoshida's first novel, I enjoyed the translation of this one much more. It is still Americanised but without the clumsy slang that irritated me so much in Villain.

On re-reading this review, I feel it isn't giving a very clear picture of the book, and that's actually a pretty accurate reflection of my feelings about it. I'm not sure I totally 'got' it (which happens to me a lot with Japanese fiction) but I am quite sure I found it a compelling and thought-provoking read. And I will most certainly be looking out for more of Yoshida's work in future. 4½ stars for me, so rounded up.

NB This book was provided for review by the publisher, Random House Vintage.
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on 16 March 2015
Like Villain, Parade was not at all what I was expecting, perhaps because of the synopsis provided. It's not a tense thriller at all, just like Villain isn't, but rather an odd but intriguing character study of a small group of people, around whom some odd, scarier things are sort of on the periphery. Of the five characters the book jumps between, some are better than others, Satoru and Koto being the standouts, but the vague, stretched out chronology and off kilter characters totally draw you in. Definitely worth reading, just ignore the blurb on the book.
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on 6 October 2015
An odd work - told from the viewpoint of 5 flatmates living in Tokyo. Not a clear narrative story, rather a set of events, told in chronological order, but with different perspectives from each character. I have never visited Japan so have no idea how accurately it portrays living there as a twenty something but it is certainly atmospheric.
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on 6 May 2015
Goos read. Recommended
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on 17 August 2014
I have yet to finish this but the book is well written with a lot of light-hearted, humourous moments
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