The setting for this novel?a village overlooking a bay at the foot of a peninsula jutting into the Pacific?is based on the author's actual hometown in Kyushu. Miki is a second-year middle-school student whose father, freshly transferred to a new post here, is the local policeman. Miki listens to four men?"The Gang of Four," who live on their work-related accident compensation payouts?as they recount the history of the village. The two local "bosses" are Yoshinii, head of the local fishing cooperative, and Hachinii, his brother-in-law and the head of a construction company. They both stand for election to the local assembly, splitting the village down the middle. Bribes change hands, and Miki's father arrests two men from each camp (the entire "Gang of Four") by way of warning; nonetheless both Yoshinii and Hachinii manage to get elected. Soon a long-lost ship?the cause of a decades-long rift between them?reappears. The villagers had originally fitted the vessel out to help forced mine laborers from Korea return home. This time the returning ship is full of economic migrants from China. Miki and her middle-school teacher Yoshida, who are watching these events unfold, embark on a sexual relationship. The novel presents all the village's inhabitants, from "holy" drunkards to mysterious old women, in a captivating fashion reminiscent of Gabriel García Márquez.