Dionysos, a young man who escapes from Smyrna (İzmir), after the Turks end the Greek occupation, arrives in Greece with the rest of Asia Minor refugees. The refugees are outcasts, living in a separate quarter on the fringes of Piraeus. Many perish under the poverty, famine and unsanitary conditions of the quarter while Dionysos finds consolation in hashish and spends a couple years in a daze. Aleko, a famous bouzouki player becomes his saviour and pulls him out of the gutter, giving him a purpose in his life. This is when he meets the beautiful Seraphina, the singer with the voice of a nightingale, his nemesis. Aleko has a secret, which unfolds as he teaches Dioynsus how to play the bouzouki and treats him like his own son. Despite the warnings and threats from the taverna owner, Papazoglou, a mobster who owns Seraphina, like king Oedipus, Dionysos is blinded by love and passion and does not heed the danger. In his early thirties, as he becomes a famous bouzouki player and composer, fame and fortune promise to make him respectable again. Yet, fate continues to weave its threats around the young couple.
Good story-telling combined with descriptions that set the atmosphere of the time, from the hellish conditions of the refugee quarter to the lavishness of the taverna patrons, and the mobsters that thrive in drug-dealing, crime, and corruption. The refugee culture that influences the local culture with its music, cuisine, language and traditions make this a gripping, yet poignant tale.