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South African novelist and playwright Slovo--Red Dust(2001)--delivers a chilling historical novel about a group of Soviets living in Leningrad between the world wars. The tale opens with the observations of Irina Davydovna, a simple cleaning woman who survived the sinking of theChelyuskin(an actual research ship that became ice-bound on its way to the Arctic in 1933). Irina delivers devastating descriptions of the Soviet Union--Stalin's military purges, the murder of Leningrad Chief Sergei Mironovich Kirov, the desperation of citizens in the clutches of an oppressive political regime. The novel loses steam when it switches to third-person narrative, highlighting the precarious personalities that populate Irina's life. Among them: her employer Boris Alexsandrovich, a government official torn between loyalty to his family and loyalty to the state; moody intellectual Anton Antonovich; and a fearless orphan named Anya. While Slovo's narrative may be uneven, her prose is luminous, evoking a landscape as cold and deadly as an ice pick to the heart.Allison Block
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ISBN-10:  0393327205
ISBN-13:  978-0393327205
Author:  Gillian Slovo
Genre:  Fiction
Publisher:  W. W. Norton & Company
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review by . October 17, 2010
  "Ice Road" tells the story of two Russian women from very different circumstances but whose lives contrive to become linked under "Stalin's Terrors". Set in Leningrad, the story covers the period from 1933 until the siege of Leningrad during the war Russians refer to as the Great Patriotic War (the Second World War as it is known outside of the USSR). Irina Davydovna's life is changed irrevocably when she is offered the opportunity to work on the Chelyuskin, …
review by . March 28, 2005
In 1934, Irina Davydovna is sent on a fated Artic expedition, along the coast of Siberia and back. Trapped in the Arctic ice with her shipmates, the author perfectly captures Irina's sense of isolation, the eerie crackling sound of the ice floes pressing against the ship and the helplessness of their predicament in this frozen, indifferent world: "I have grown heavy with hope and with belief. I have dared to dream." In an enormous rescue effort, most of the crew is saved, including Irina, although …
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