Mona is a Peruvian writer based on a Californian campus, open-eyed and sardonic, a connoisseur of marijuana and prescription pills. In the humanities she has discovered she is something of an anthropological curiosity - a female writer of colour treasured for the flourish of rarefied diversity that reflects so well upon her department. When she is nominated for 'the most important literary award in Europe', Mona sees a chance to escape her sunlit substance abuse and erotic distraction, and leaves for a small village in Sweden.
Now she is stuck in the company of her competitors, who arrive from Japan, France, Armenia, Iran and Colombia. The writers do what writers do: exchange flattery, nurse envy and private resentments, stab rivals in the back and go to bed together. But all the while, Mona keeps stumbling across traces of violence on her body, the origins of which she can't - or won't - remember.