The Algerian war for independence from France, and the sufferings of oppressed peoples in such other theaters of conflict and cruelty as South America and Sarajevo, provide the themes for this exemplary collection (the first booklength English translation of Dib’s work) of 13 stories by a prolific and prizewinning veteran (b. 1920) North African writer. The author’s homeland is the scene of “The Detour” (reminiscent of Paul Bowles’s icy cautionary tales), as well as, among others, of the superb title story and “Talilo is Dead” (which depicts the agony of exile as movingly as anything in contemporary fiction). But “The Merry Misfit” (about a Parisian who impulsively bonds with his city’s homeless populace) and “Letter to Mother,” which puts a grim postmodernist spin on the theme of Holocaust guilt, are equally compelling and rewarding. A fine introduction to an unjustly neglected contemporary master.