Ice

Sonallah Ibrahim

Ice

Sonallah Ibrahim

Distributed for Seagull Books

Translated by Margaret Litvin
256 pages | 5 x 8 | © 2019
Cloth $21.50 ISBN: 9780857426505 Will Publish August 2019 World sales rights except India
The year is 1973. An Egyptian historian, Dr. Shukri, pursues a year of non-degree graduate studies in Moscow, the presumed heart of the socialist utopia. Through his eyes, the reader receives a guided tour of the sordid stagnation of Brezhnev-era Soviet life: intra-Soviet ethnic tensions; Russian retirees unable to afford a tin of meat; a trio of drunks splitting a bottle of vodka on the sidewalk; a Kirgiz roommate who brings his Russian girlfriend to live in his four-person dormitory room; black-marketeering Arab embassy officials; liberated but insecure Russian women; and Arab students’ debates about the geographically distant October 1973 War. Shukri records all this in the same numbly factual style familiar to fans of Sonallah Ibrahim’s That Smell, punctuating it with the only redeeming sources of beauty available: classical music LPs, newly acquired Russian vocabulary, achingly beautiful women, and strong Georgian tea.
 
Based on Ibrahim’s own experience studying at the All-Russian Institute of Cinematography in Moscow from 1971 to 1973, Ice offers a powerful exploration of Arab confusion, Soviet dysfunction, and the fragility of leftist revolutionary ideals.
 
Review Quotes
4Columns
"Since the appearance—such as it was—of his debut 1966 novella, the Egyptian writer Sonallah Ibrahim has been one of the most intriguing and important figures in contemporary Arabic literature. . . . Written and published at the very moment Egypt was entering the Arab Spring, Ice is a curious missive from a partly real, partly imagined past to a generation awakening to hope and upheaval—as well as the possibility of dashed illusions."
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