Not getting as far in school as he’d hoped, at the age of twelve Mevlut Karatas comes to Istanbul --- “the center of the world”. He follows his father’s trade, selling boza on the street, and hoping to become rich, like other villagers who have settled the desolate hills outside the booming metropolis. Despite the disappointments life hands him, every evening, without fail, Mevlut still wanders the streets of Istanbul, selling boza and wondering at the “strangeness” in his mind, the sensation that makes him feel different from everyone else, until fortune conspires once more to let him understand at last what it is he has always yearned for.
Fatma, a mostly bedridden widow, awaits the annual summer visit of her grandchildren. Her servant’s nephew, Hasan, is a high school dropout who has lately fallen in with right-wing nationalists. He will draw the visiting family into the growing political cataclysm issuing from Turkey’s tumultuous century-long struggle for modernity.