The Antipeople

Sony, Author, Sony Labou Tansi, Author Marion Boyars Publishers $18.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-7145-2845-8

In this moving tale of love and politics by Congo writer Tansi, two beautiful young women, Yavelde and Yealdara, vie for the sexual attention of Dadou, the married principal of a girl's school in Zaire. While Dadou resists, turning to heavy drink and risking his post, unstable Yavelde sleeps with another man, then commits suicide. The note she leaves accuses Dadou. He is beaten by an enraged mob, who cause his family's death and wreck his home. Dadou spends four years in prison before Yealdara can wield enough influence to plan his escape. The intense eroticism of the early part of the novel, the fashionable town life of partying and cafes, gives way to the austere simplicity of a fishing village by the Congo river, where Dadou and Yealdara separately hide out. Ancestral rituals and folk wisdom prevail as the villagers protect themselves against murderous bands of government soldiers hunting for Resistance supporters. Villagers keep hoping to find the many ""maybe-alives.'' Women sell their sexual favors to official ``bigshots'' in exchange for safety and the right identification papersjust one of the corruptions Tansi deplores. Brooding, satirical, passionate, The Antipeople gives readers an illuminating glimpse of a contemporary African society in upheaval. (April)