Nine hard-hitting, powerfully written stories with such themes as intolerance, betrayal, and the futility of war. Most are set in Britain, though ""Choices"" concerns a dissident Russian author whose daughter, wounded by his apparent insensitivity to real people, betrays him; in doing so, she realizes for the first time the depth of his understanding. In ""This Nothing Will Never End,"" Bolivian soldiers who have spent months digging for water are attacked by Paraguayans who believe, erroneously, that they have found it; the few survivors bury their dead in the empty, dry well. One story, in which the heckling of a black teacher escalates into a vicious riot, is a stunning evocation of inner-city Britain, but the street-language narration will be incomprehensible to most Americans; another piece is heavily involved with cricket, but this time the narrative thread--a ne'er-do-well defends a young black girl (a budding champion) against racial taunts--is clear enough. There's a strong conscience at work here, as well as a great deal of bitterness--only partly mitigated by a few conclusions where hope survives against overwhelming odds: much to ponder and discuss.