The narrator, Valdimir Girshkin, is a twenty-five year old Russian immigrant living in America, in 1993.
His life is tedious and monotonous, as he continues to work at Emma Lazarus Immigrant Absorption Society for very little wage. His parents express disappointment at him for not doing something greater with his life.
One day Vladimir is approached by notorious mafia member, Aleksander Rybakov, who asks him to help him gain full citizenship to the US. Vladimir ignores this and resumes his normal lifestyle.
Later he goes out with his friend and meets a wealthy young woman, Francesca, who accepts him into her social circle. Vladimir finally feels content with where he is, but living Francesca’s lifestyle leaves him in debt, so much so that he borrows from Rybakov.
To pay off the debt, Vladimir takes a job posing as his friend’s boss’ (Jordi) son. However, upon arrival Jordi tries to have sex with Vladimir who runs away in fear. Jordi is a very important figure in the drug cartel and as such, for his safety, Valdimir helps Rybakov obtain his naturalization in order for safety. Vladimir becomes of great use to Rybakov and he begins his scam business pretending he is wealthy. He pretends to be creating a film and instead directs the funds he obtains for the organization.
However, when Rybakov finds out he is not a US citizen, he has him beaten. Vladimir escapes back to the US and resumes his old life.