Vytautas Vargalys is stuck in an absurd job, helping to create a digital catalog for a library in Soviet-ruled Vilnius that no one is allowed to access. A survivor of the labor camps, an experience which has left him both physically and mentally damaged, Vargalys is obsessed with finding out "what’s really going on" in Vilnius. As his tenuous grip on reality begins to slip, he discovers that They
have taken over. They
are dead-eyed demons who have assumed human form; They
are determined to steal everyone's soul and turn the world to shit. Vargalys begins to find evidence of Their
presence wherever he looks: in books, in the death of his best friend, and in the beautiful women who are sent to work at the library.
One of these beautiful women is Lolita, an aptly named seductress with a mysterious past and a growing love for Vargalys. Vilnius Poker
chronicles the tragic relationship between Vargalys and Lolita—and between Vilnius and everyone who lives in the city—from four different perspectives, and it captures the surreal horror of life under the Soviet yoke.
By turns lyrical, philosophical, and deeply shockingly, Vilnius Poker
is often referred to as "the turning point in Lithuanian literature" and it earned Gavelis his reputation as Lithuania's greatest novelist.