One evening Pilar, the novel's Spanish protagonist, returns from work to discover that her husband, Eyüp, has suddenly and inexplicably disappeared from the home they share in Barcelona. She learns from the police the following morning that he has boarded a plane for Istanbul, the city of his birth that he has not visited since he left it almost two decades previously. Mystified as to what could have provoked such uncharacteristic behaviour, and assailed by her own insecurities, she decides to follow him there and bring him back. Packing a tiny bag with just a few clothes and the dream diary that Eyüp's psychologist has asked him to keep in an attempt to get to the bottom of what has been perturbing his sleep, she sets off for Istanbul, where she will embark on a journey of painful discovery. Meeting Eyüp's dysfunctional family, from which he has been as good as estranged since before she has known him, and his friends, and seeing the city where he grew up for the first time, she will piece together the clues to uncover the horrifying truth about what drove Eyüp away.
Each chapter is narrated from the perspective of a different character, beginning with Pilar, and continuing with Müesser, Eyüp's long suffering and resigned unmarried elder sister, Veysel, Eyüp's belligerent and embittered elder brother, Perihan, Veysel's spiteful, mean-spirited wife, and two minor characters, Bülent, Veysel's twelve year old son, and Bünyamin, Perihan's younger brother. Each chapter is followed by a dream from Eyüp's dream diary. These dreams, which begin very frivolously, grow progressively more serious as Eyüp remembers more and more of his dreams, until the disturbing climax which ends the novel.