One man's descent into the political underground informs this dark parable about the disintegration of the sociopolitical fabric of present-day Zaire and the Congo. Dadou, young black principal of a girls' college, finds life ""putrid."" He has gone to university, married, fathered two children; but it all reeks of false virtue. When a student, Yavelde, makes passes at him, he is distracted and goes on drunken binges. Soon he is walking an existential tightcope, balancing job and lustful stirrings. Dadou's Jail occurs when Yavelde kills herself, leaving a note that suggests Dadou made her pregnant. Dadou's wife, too, commits suicide, his children are killed in the community's effort to avenge Yavelde's death, and Dadou is imprisoned. He eventually escapes into hiding across the Zaire River. Here again he is touched by a woman, an idealistic Resistance fighter. Thus begins Dadou's immersion--almost by default--into underground politics. Rounded up in a raid, he becomes one of the ""maybe-alives,"" resurfacing five years later as a Resistance agent disguised as a madman. It is Yavelde's cousin, the loyal Yealdara, who tracks him down--by seducing a high official, Mouyabas, whom the Resistance then makes a target. Dadou assassinates him, shooting him point-blank in church on Easter. Tansi, a young Central African who writes in French, has compressed into the short, classically spare African novel of social-consciousness a tragic story of a region ""gone mad."" His touch is deft and self-assured, and the translation wonderfully colloquial.