“At the end of his fortune-telling the Rasputin next door apparently said this: “If you break out of this world you’ll find this world again, only one size larger. In your struggle with the world, the world has the advantage.”
Parade is a much more subtle novel than Villain. In fact, I was so shocked at the conclusion I found myself reading the last twenty pages twice, carefully looking for nuances which could have led to such a surprising revelation. The clues are all there of course, just not laid out in an obvious, 21st century American way.
Four Japanese students in their early twenties share Apartment 401 together in Tokyo. They are convinced that the inhabitant of Apartment 402 is up to no good, and they make elaborate plans to disclose his occupation. Yet they are completely unable to face their own flaws, let alone the tragic and horrifying flaw within the eldest. They look away from reality, and thus pardon one another’s behavior; if nothing is named, how can blame be assigned?
In the beginning of the novel I found myself longing for such a camaraderie, a group of friends who are able to live together so peacefully, so smoothly. They seem to co-exist without tension. Instead, they flow in and out of one another’s lives, asking innocuous questions like, “Where do you want to go for dinner?” “What movie do you want to rent tonight?” “Would you like to go out for a drink?”
By the end of the novel, we see what tragedy is created by the willingness to ignore truth. We see how probably, for these four anyway, it will never change. If this is an indication of the mindset of today’s twenty-somethings, there is much to fear.
Shuichi Yoshida was born in Nagasaki, Japan, in 1968. The author of over 25 books, he has won numerous literary awards in Japan and has also had several of his short stories adapted for Japanese television. He lives in Tokyo.Read an excerpt from Parade here.