Sonallah Ibrahim

In 1973, Egyptian historian, Dr. Shukri, pursues a year of non-degree graduate studies in Moscow, the presumed heart of the socialist utopia.

He sees 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; 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 a numbly factual style, punctuating it with the only redeeming sources of beauty available: classical music LPs, newly acquired Russian vocabulary, achingly beautiful women, and strong Georgian tea. Ice offers a powerful exploration of Arab confusion, Soviet dysfunction, and the fragility of leftist revolutionary ideals.

Call number: F IBRA

Novel: Ice