You don’t really need to be aware that Parade is a loose sequel to Kawakami’s previous novel, 2017’s Strange Weather in Tokyo, to enjoy the former, since it stands on its own as an enrapturing display of writerly grace and restraint ... there’s a slow sensuality at the core of Parade, a product of Kawakami’s relaxed faith in the blessedness of the quotidian. Time unfolds on a human scale, marked by minor intimacies ... You often get the impression that time has been loosened somehow, as though Kawakami were stringing it up leisurely on a washing line, careful to place her clothespins just so. At only seventy-nine pages, the book is an alchemical feat of miniaturization, a distillation and bottling-up of the essence of a summer afternoon; her slight, subtle prose turns so casually away from excess detail that the resulting image of reality is imbued with a curious weightlessness. We’re left with an ash-skeleton of sorts, or whatever remains after a lazy afternoon has burned away—the fibrous weave of a rotted-through leaf, say, or the hollow lambency of a cicada shell ... he nested dreaminess of the text—its air of rapt involution—is partly a result of this desire to transcend narrative time ... Kawakami’s depictions of haptic connection are stones dropped into a pool, reverberations in the empty vase of the self which, though they fade and leave us with no definite image of our desires, are enough, for a time, to fill the hollow vessel of the flesh, and to restore to the spindly architecture of the novel some measure of the sonority of being.
The presentation is exquisite: in this small volume, Kawakami’s spare text is interrupted by Takako Yoshitomi’s delightful two-color illustrations of mostly geometric shapes with anthropomorphized additions ... this less-than-100 pages tome easily stands alone as a parable about memory, mythic characters, and confessional regrets, but for a lingering, sigh-inducing experience, read this only after finishing its companion, the internationally bestselling, Man Asian Literary Prize finalist, Strange Weather in Tokyo ... Kawakami’s enduring afterword follows—and haunts—as she ponders what happens to 'stories that have ended,' of 'echoes that [she] hear[s], far off in the distance,' how '[t]he world that exists behind a story is never fully known, not even to the author.' The result—Anglophoned once again by Powell, Kawakami’s translator of choice—is an ethereal, resonating literary gift.
[The] small tale leaves much unspoken and open, but is also a touching one of childhood connection and (flailing) understanding, the present-day perspective that the narrative repeatedly returns to easily preventing it from sinking into the too-maudlin, while still being effectively affecting. Gossamer-light, Parade is an appealing little fiction, with Yoshitomi Takako's illustrations a nice layer of padding to the tale. And while it is a sort of supplement-volume to Kawakami's novel, it stands easily and well on its own too.