Imagine: a man and a woman are at a party, they have never met before. Suddenly their eyes meet from across the room, life stops, the music dies out, and their hearts simultaneously skip a beat. They gravitate towards each other, following an instinct deeper than animal attraction, and one says to the other, ‘I’m sorry, but you remind me of someone’. And the other smiles knowingly, and replies, ‘Yes, it’s like I’ve known you my whole life’.
I know it sounds slightly clichéd, but love at first sight does happen. But the question remains; how and why? With ‘Paradise’, Suzuki tries to explain the phenomena of love through ancient mythologies, by underlining that love is a promise made between two souls who swear to find one another again; a promise that resurrects and renews itself with every body it gives life to, ready to find the lost ‘other’.
“What if your soul mate isn’t encountered once in a lifetime but once in a millennia?”
As the quote above states, this book is a unique love story that spans a millenia. We begin with the scene of two young lovers who are cruelly separated on the wild steppes of Mongolia, just as the long prophesied freezing over of the ocean between Asia and the ‘lost continent’ occurs. One of them is fated to travel across this icy wilderness to reach the promised land of what is now called ‘America’, the other travels South and eventually reaches a paradise of tropical islands. Yet despite the wanderlust, this undying love traverses the unchartered world, only to meet again thousands of years later, incarnated in the bodies of two strangers.
This novel shows a side of Suzuki that is not well-known. His writing of love is that of high, spiritual immortality. In ‘Paradise’, Suzuki teaches us a thing or two about soul mates. He allows us to travel from one moment in time to the next, visiting different people, and watching how the destiny of two souls finally converge to fulfil the promise they made to each other.
A very powerful novel, and perfect for those who do not care for soppy romanticism. Definitely worth a read.