Frank Larson, a Swedish university professor who has lived and worked in the United States most of his life, visits the old country to participate in an academic symposium in the town where he attended university when he was young.
The morning after his arrival, tired and jetlagged after his long trip, he takes off for the conference hall where he is supposed to give one of the first speeches. There is a good size crowd in the room but none of the colleagues he expected to see are there; a young man is standing at the podium and he starts lecturing on an entirely different topic to an audience of tie-clad students.
Confused, Frank leaves and when he can’t relocate his hotel, only a vacant lot where the hotel used to be, he suspects that he has had some kind of stroke. As he walks through the city he realizes that something has happened that has deprived him of his place in time; he has lost his era. He decides to try to accept this transfer to what turns out to be the fall of 1924. He refrains from finding a doctor because he’s afraid that he wil be taken into custody for being crazy. Cell phone and credit cards, passport and money are useless, his luggage has disappeared with the hotel. All he owns are the clothes on his back, a watch and a briefcase with the manu-script for the lecture he was going to give ninety years later, in addition a few rings and cufflinks that he immediately pawns. For the money he buys a new suitcase, a few clothes and a ticket for the express train to Rome.
A number of surprises soon sneak up on the reader, and the journey takes us to, among other places, an archeological dig in Spain, where the first-person narrator also conducts some mental archeology and, inspired by two women, one mythical and the other real, steps back into his own personal origin, the beginning before the beginning of his existence.