Two Irish-American scholars from Harvard journey to Albania in the 1930s with a tape recorder (a 'new fangled' invention) in order to record the last genuinely oral epic singers. Their purpose, they say, is to show how Homer's epics might have been culled from a verbal tradition. But the local Governor believes its an elaborate spying mission and arranges for his own spy to follow them. The two dedicated scholars realise only too late that they have stumbled over an ants' nest. This simple tale by Albania's most eminent and gifted novelist serves to lift the veil on one of the most secret and mysterious countries of modern Europe.