cover image The Night Parade: A Speculative Memoir

The Night Parade: A Speculative Memoir

Jami Nakamura Lin. Mariner, $30 (272p) ISBN 978-0-06-321323-4

In this gorgeous and unique debut memoir, Lin draws on the Japanese myth of the Hyakki Yagyo (the “Night Parade of One Hundred Demons,” in which demons and spirits march through the streets at night) to document her struggles with bipolar disorder and her father’s fatal illness. Organizing her tale into a traditional Japanese four-act structure, Lin recounts an adolescence marked by debilitating rage and depression, which led to feelings of shame at appearing “monstrous” to herself and others. After a voluntary admission to the psych ward at 17, she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Eventually, Lin learned to regulate the disorder, married, and had a child, though her happiness was undercut by the agony of watching her father’s struggle against the cancer that eventually killed him. Throughout, Lin draws on characters from the Hyakki Yagyo (like the hideous, flesh-eating Oni Baba, or the vengeful ghost whale known as Bakekujira) to contextualize and come to terms with her feelings, sometimes using them to personify her “ugly” emotions, other times using them to interrogate cultural narratives about monstrousness. Interspersed throughout are full-color illustrations of each creature by her sister, Cori. “The story is a different story,” Lin writes of the mythic yardstick she uses to process her own tragedies; “The story is the same story.” The result is a memorable and moving exorcism of the monsters within. (Oct.)