A promising debut collection--although here, unfortunately, Zimbabwean writer Mungoshi lets a single type of character, sensitive and invariably badly done by, dominate. Set in pre-independence Zimbabwe, the stories are more about personal relationships than about overtly political situations, but one or two--like ""The Accident"" and ""The Flood""--do describe the great gulf of prejudice and misunderstanding that divides so many whites from blacks. Mungoshi's theme is the death of dreams and ideals: a longed-for education denied by family poverty and a brother's drinking (""The Brother""); a father turned destroyer (""Shadows on the Wall""); or a business failure and a wife's adultery (""The Day the Bread Van Didn't Come""). The characters are marginal people, threatened by debt and disappointment, who live in the drought-ridden countryside or on the outskirts of the city in rundown shacks and lodging houses. Living in one of the most developed countries in Africa, they are torn between modern ways and old customs and beliefs. The men and women may be clerks, salesmen, and foremen, but, when down on their luck, they will seek the help of the witch doctor, even if the remedy prescribed for a father who has lost his luck requires the sacrifice of his son (""The Mount of Moriah""). Mungoshi writes movingly, and at times evocatively, about these people and the countryside where so many of them live. The stories, though, irritate slightly by seeming always to contain the same central character, with only the names and circumstances changed. A new and accomplished writer from South Africa who will be interesting to watch, although he may prove to be more gracefully served by the novel form.