Fiction. Translated from the French by Barbara Wright. In this classic later work from French novelist Nathalie Sarraute, one finds a "delectably austere, beady-eyed book.... Phrases that give rise to the scenes or episodes are ordinary enough until Sarraute imagines for them a context which turns them from bland civilities into weapons of psychological warfare. Friends meet and converse, in a cafe or in the street, and are all sociability; except underneath, where the best of friends can be the most savage of opponents. Sarraute resorts sardonically to metaphor to indicate what words will not capture: the shameful and ineffable animosities that...imperil our urbanity" (The Times Literary Supplement).