Albania, at the end of the twentieth century, a decade after the fall of the Communist regime. In a small town at the foot of the northern highlands, life appears to go on as it always has, but people are in a state of shock. The robbery of a local bank is seen as a sign of modern times and of westernization in this backward Balkan land. At the same moment, the harsh blood-for-blood law of the mountain folk, the fearsome Kanun,like everything else forbidden under the fifty years of Communist rule, is emerging from hibernation. Other strange things occur. Mysterious events that are two thousand years, two centuries, or even two years old reemerge in daily life. The marriage of a girl and a snake is not just a legend but a news item--a cyclical event recurring every few hundred years that is as much a part of the modern as of the ancient world. In a desolate spot on the outskirts of the town, some people search for the entrance to a tunnel that is said to lead to the secret archives of the State. They're looking for evidence of their own crimes--or of hypothetical crimes they might have committed. People say that the ghostly likenesses of Hoxha, Brezhnev--and even Oedipus--have been seen lurking there. Set against this Kafkaesque backdrop, a simple and sensual love story between a painter and a girl stands out as light against dark.