The Night Parade

THE NIGHT PARADE will be published on October 24th, 2023 by Mariner Books/HarperCollins in the United States and by Scribe in the United Kingdom.

Pre-order The Night Parade on Bookshop (or wherever books are sold!)

“In the groundbreaking tradition of In the Dream House and The Collected Schizophrenias, a gorgeously illustrated speculative memoir that draws upon the Japanese myth of the Hyakki Yagyo—the Night Parade of One Hundred Demons—to shift the cultural narrative around mental illness, grief, and remembrance. 

Are these the only two stories? The one where you defeat your monster, and the other where you succumb to it?

Jami Nakamura Lin spent much of her life feeling monstrous for reasons outside of her control. As a young woman with undiagnosed bipolar disorder, much of her adolescence was marked by periods of extreme rage and self-medicating, an evolving array of psychiatric treatments, and her relationships suffered as a result, especially as her father’s cancer grasped hold of their family.

As she grew older and learned to better manage her episodes, Lin grew increasingly frustrated with the familiar pattern she found in mental illness and grief narratives and their focus on recovery. She sought comfort in the stories she’d loved as a child, tales of ghostly creatures known to terrify in the night. Through the lens of the yokai and other figures from Japanese, Taiwanese, and Okinawan legend, she set out to interrogate the very notion of conflict and resolution, grief and loss, and the myriad ways fear of difference shapes who we are as a people.

Featuring stunning illustrations by her sister, Cori Nakamura Lin, and divided into four acts in the traditional Japanese narrative structure, Jami Nakamura Lin has crafted an innovative, genre-bending, and deeply emotional memoir that mirrors the sensation of being caught between realms. Braiding her experience of mental illness, the death of her father, the grieving process, and other haunted topics with the storytelling tradition, The Night Parade shines a light into dark corners in search of a new way, driven by a question: How do we learn to live with the things that haunt us? 

The book uses yōkai (the supernatural monsters, creatures, and spirits of Japanese myth and folklore) as an organizational framework. Here are some of my favorites. All artwork by Cori.


The ghost whale

Sometimes, on rainy nights, a glowing whale will appear close to the shores of fishing villages. Everyone will gather for the hunt, for a whale can feed the entire village for many moons. But the whale will escape all the harpoons, because it is not true whale but a bakekujira, a ghost whale. The ghost whale’s enormous floating skeleton glides through the waves, surrounded by schools of spectral fish and flocks of unearthly birds. The villagers know that the bakekujira is a soul of a whale they have previously killed–and they know that they will soon be plagued by disease. The whale’s revenge.


The pulley-necked woman

During the day, they look like normal women: hair black and sleek, bodies hidden behind the folds of their kimono. But at night their necks stretch until they are as long and curling as tentacles. While the women’s bodies stay motionless in bed, their heads roam in search of lamp oil to drink. They need the oil the same way vampires need blood. 

Rokurokubi are formerly human women who have been transformed by a curse into this yokai form. Often, the curse is the result of the woman’s husband’s or father’s misdeed. Of course it is the woman who bears the punishment for eternity.


The chimera

People plagued by nightmares search for the holy baku, the chimera that live deep in the forest. Though their appearance is odd–they are formed from parts of the elephant, the bear, the tiger, and other animals–they are symbols of good luck. The baku feed on bad dreams and keep evil at bay. It is said that the baku were created out of all the leftover parts when the gods were creating animals. The modern tapir, with its similar appearance, is also called baku in Japan.


The trickster fox

These wild foxes possess a fearsome magic, whose strength is matched by cunning and intelligence. Some kitsune are faithful and good, protecting humans and serving the god Inari. Others love mischief and guile; they can shape-shift into any form, including human. The number of tails on a kitsune signifies its age, and how much strength and wisdom it possesses. Many humans have been tricked into marrying kitsune.

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