Brother in Ice


On the ice, time and space are almost impossible to measure. Yes, there might be the sun, but in winter it might not rise for long, if at all, and in summer it might not set for long, if at all. The angles change, the snow shifts like sand, in dunes and eddies and flurries, or if it melts, it refreezes into fantastical new shapes. Walking on the ice of a frozen lake is one of the best things about living in Finland, and this year it was different, as we had far more snow than usual. What seems exotic becomes exhausting as with every step you plunge up to your knees, or even deeper…

I live well below the Arctic Circle, but the pull of the icier, more ‘real’ north is strong. How much stronger is it if you live further south, in Barcelona, for example?

Alicia Kopf wrote this novel about it. Brother in Ice, translated by Mara Faye Lethem, is an extraordinary polar exploration, that mixes research about the Arctic and personal stories in a fascinating way:

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One of the regrets of spring is losing that feeling of silence and solitude. The loneliness can be dangerous too, though. What could get trapped under the ice? What kind of environmental – or emotional – impact would that have?


Kopf’s narrator draws us into her love life, her family story, her closest relationships. The book is dedicated “to my brother, who isn’t of ice.” He seems to be trapped and cut off from everyone else, but his sister knows that much more is going on beneath the surface than anyone can imagine.

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Brother in Ice is out on 23 April; you can pre-order it from the publisher, And Other Stories, or if you’d like to get your hands on books like this before everyone else does, why not become one of their subscribers?


Translator, editor, writer, reader

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