Anna Kavan’s novel “Ice,” a fantasia about predatory male sexual behavior that takes place during an apocalyptic climate catastrophe, was first published fifty years ago. (An anniversary edition has just been released by Penguin Classics.) It was the last novel that Kavan published before she died in 1968—there have since been a number of posthumous publications—and it was the culmination of an artistic trajectory that took her from conventional realism into something strange and difficult to categorize. That evolution was fuelled by a peripatetic life that included two unhappy marriages, severe depression, and a decades-long addiction to heroin. Reading “Ice” is a disorienting and at times emotionally draining experience, not least because, these days, one might become convinced that Kavan had seen the future.
In this haunting and surreal novel, the narrator and a man known as the warden search for an elusive girl in a frozen, seemingly post-nuclear, apocalyptic landscape. The country has been invaded and is being governed by a secret organization. There is destruction everywhere; great walls of ice overrun the world. Together with the narrator, the reader is swept into a hallucinatory quest for this strange and fragile creature with albino hair. Acclaimed upon its 1967 publication as the best science fiction book of the year, this extraordinary and innovative novel has subsequently been recognized as a major work of literature in its own right.
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Note, this novel was first published in 1967, but no month or day is given. For that reason, the database shows its reprint date by Picador Books. If anyone can help us find the month and day this book was first published, please send us the information and we will update the database.