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The opening sentences of André Brink’s new novel, The Rights of Desire, are irresistible: “The house is haunted. Which is why it was so cheap, long ago….Ghosts were not yet fashionable.” The apparition that haunts retired librarian Ruben Olivier’s Cape Town house is that of Antje of Bengal, a 17th-century slave executed after being sexually used by her master—and for participating in the murder of his wife, a crime for which her master went free. Ruben, who, in the novel’s present day, is himself haunted by deaths of loved ones, decides to take in a boarder. He meets Tessa, a charming waif who moves in and destroys his middle-aged apathy. Infatuated with the younger woman and tormented by her lies and promiscuity, Ruben hopes to be added to her roster of lovers but remains powerless over her wayward behavior until the dangerous elements of their South African city draw too close. Call it Antje’s revenge. Brink reads from his book at 7 p.m. at Olsson’s Books and Records, 1200 F St. NW. Free. (202) 347-3686. (Elizabeth Roca)