The stories do not stay in Italy but range across Europe and beyond. "The Circle" is narrated from the perspective of a woman from the Maghreb who grew up in Paris, and is now married into a rich and illustrious family of Germans, possibly Jewish, living in Geneva. "Between Generals" tell the story of the Soviet invasion of Hungary through the point of view of an Hungarian general who spent "the best days of [his] life" in Moscow with the Russian general he fought against. In "Bucharest Hasn't Changed a Bit," a son, who still lives and works in Europe, visits his senile father in Tel Aviv, who cannot forget the old family home in Bucharest.
The last story "Against Time" is, at least in part, an ars poetica, as the translators said during the book launch at the Center for Fiction, New York City. The narrator becomes a character in his own story, following the trail of his protagonist from Italy to Athens and then to Crete, to an old monastery. In an epiphany at the end, the narrator understands:
Everything changed perspective, in a flash he felt the euphoria of discovery, a subtle nausea, a mortal melancholy. But also a sense of infinite liberation, as when we finally understand something we'd known all along and didn't want to know: it wasn't the already-seen that was swallowing him a never-lived past, he instead was capturing it in a future yet to be lived.
To write down what is first conceived in the mind is not to be sucked back into an imaginary past, but to render the story into a human future to come.