Charles Burton, journalist, cannot get work past Iron Curtain censors and knows he should leave the country. However, he is in love with his secretary, Anna Maras, and she is in danger. Then the President is assassinated and one of Burton’s office workers is found dead. He decides to smuggle Anna out of the country, but her reluctance impedes him, as does being sought by secret police and counterrevolutionaries alike.
Twenty-two of the 23 children in a rural village die in a disaster. By chance, the 'wrong' child, Dog Evans, lives. Crippled with survivor's guilt, his parents abandon Evans to a feral life at the margins. He is shunned by those left behind, for whom his presence is a daily insult, a reminder of unbearable loss. As the action moves from past to present and back, we learn what took place and its shocking consequences for both Dog Evans and the wider community.