In an entrancing blend of personal narrative and cultural exploration, Jami Nakamura Lin has released a speculative memoir that is already garnering critical acclaim. The Night Parade is described as “stunning, haunting, magical, and terrifying all at once” by Catherine Cho, author of Inferno. Katie Goh echoes this sentiment, calling Lin’s work “a feat of storytelling that is deeply moving”.
Drawing inspiration from the Japanese myth of the Hyakki Yagy – The Night Parade of One Hundred Demons – Lin’s memoir stands in the groundbreaking tradition of titles such as In the Dream House and The Collected Schizophrenias. It seeks to shift the cultural narrative surrounding mental illness, grief, and remembrance.
At the heart of this memoir is Lin’s introspection on two potential life narratives: one where you conquer your inner demons and another where you are consumed by them. As a Japanese-Taiwanese-American woman grappling with undiagnosed bipolar disorder, Lin’s youth was marred by extreme rage, self-medication, and a carousel of psychiatric treatments. These challenges strained her relationships, particularly with her father.
Rejecting the conventional narrative arc of mental illness memoirs that typically culminate in recovery or “getting better”, Lin finds solace in Japanese folklore, rich with tales of supernatural beings that stalk the night. Through these tales and East Asian mythology, she critically examines Western ideas about conflict, resolution, grief, loss, and the pervasive fear of the “other”.
The Night Parade is structured in the classic Japanese narrative form, divided into four acts, and is accentuated by mesmerising watercolour illustrations. This memoir is not just Lin’s personal journey; it is an innovative tapestry that weaves her experiences with mental illness, the loss of her father, and other haunting themes with the age-old folkloric tradition. It challenges readers with a pivotal question: How do we navigate life with the ghosts that persistently trail us?
Jami Nakamura Lin, a Japanese-Taiwanese-Okinawan-American writer based just outside Chicago, has an impressive literary portfolio. A former essay columnist for Catapult, her writings have graced the pages of The New York Times, Electric Literature, and Passages North, among other esteemed publications. She was a finalist for the 2022 Sustainable Arts Foundation, and her works have been recognised by the 2021 Chicago Review of Books Awards. Lin’s academic credentials include an MFA in non-fiction from Pennsylvania State University.
On a related note, Cori Nakamura Lin, a Japanese-Taiwanese American illustrator and designer, boasts a portfolio rich in culture-driven storytelling and radical information dissemination. Her creations have been showcased in the LA Times, Eater Chicago, and the Twin Cities Daily Planet, and have also been spotlighted on the History Channel.