It is the summer of 1968, and four spies are working to smuggle military secrets out of Kadena Air Base in Okinawa and disrupt the US bombing of North Vietnam. Chōei lost his parents and older brother in the World War II of Saipan; he now runs a parts shop in Okinawa. Frieda-Jane, a sergeant major, was born to an American father and a Philipine mother. Taka, a drummer in a rock band, was abandoned by his father for a life on the mainland and lost his mother to suicide. And the Vietnamese-born Annan is Chōei’s childhood friend from Saipan.
The four have little in common aside form living in Okinawa, sharing neither age, nationality, ethnicity, nor language, and none has complete knowledge of everyone else involved. The only thing to connect them is their participation in a dangerous plan that leaves them nothing to gain, spurred on not by patriotism but by a sense of camaraderie and a desire to “follow their feelings” in coming to the aid of a Vietnamese girl. They are individuals playing at being heroes, they aver self-mockingly, rather than antiwar ideologues. But the story provides a rousing depiction of the characters’ pride in acting of their own accord, rather than marching to another’s tune.
During the writing of this novel the author was also editing a collection of world literature. The task made him realize anew that an “interest in post-colonialism and the frontier, an understanding of the female perspective, and a reliance on the power of his literary approach; indeed, these three elements are very much alive in this work.