Marko has a poet’s sensibilities in Veles, a town in war-torn Macedonia. His sister is a bully, his mom’s a doormat, and his dad is a striking factory worker who drinks and plays bingo. At school, Marko is tormented by thuggish fellow students, led by the loutish Levi, the son of a police captain. Marko’s teacher of Macedonian, a Bosnian, sees promise in Marko’s writing and gives the lad hope that he can someday escape Veles. A chance friendship with a thief who’s passing through town furthers Marko’s education. Is hope a mirage? What sort of fatherland is Macedonia?