Imagine a post-apocalyptic world beset by twin catastrophes. Nations and totalitarian leaders are at war with each other, while an environmental disaster looms in the form of "icy giant battalions, marching in relentless order across the world, crushing, obliterating, destroying everything in their path." Yet the story centers on the pursuit of an elusive "glass girl."

In Ice, first published in 1967, Anna Kavan creates a world on the brink of destruction. The glass girl, fragile but resilient, is held captive by her husband, the Warden, who takes advantage of the worldwide political disarray. She is also the obsession of the novel's unnamed narrator, traveling the world in pursuit of the girl who is "a shimmer among the ruins." Fighting demons of his own, the narrator is tormented by haunting scenarios of the girl's death. Kavan's precise prose, interspersed with hallucinatory episodes, is so artfully composed it leaves readers at the mercy of the author as Ice embarks on a feverish journey shrouded in impending doom.

It's impossible to ignore the impact that Kavan's personal life--two failed marriages, multiple suicide attempts, mental illness and a decades-long addiction to heroin--had on her fiction. Among her body of work, Ice stands out; a singular piece of science fiction (or slipstream, or literary fiction--it's up for debate) streaked with existential angst. Kavan achieved recognition for the last novel published in her lifetime, and it's time readers rediscover Ice, somewhat forgotten but more relevant than ever. --Frank Brasile, librarian

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