Melting? 5 Stories to Beat the Heat

As much of North America sizzles, escape the heat wave by diving into some of our most bone-chilling stories from five icy locations:


Siberia

Start in that shorthand for shivers, Siberia, with Yuri Rythkheu’s Dream of Polar Fog, in which an American explorer is stopped in his tracks by his frostbitten extremities, then suffers even more chilling treatment at the hands of his beloved captain. 


 

Moscow

From there, hop the Trans-Siberian Railway and alight in the dead of winter in Moscow, where Hamid Ismailov shows a longtime Uzbek resident of the city taking in, and then being taken in by, his manipulative visiting nephew in “The Stone Guest.”


 

Ukraine

It’s a short trip to Ukraine and a survivor’s account of the great famine of 1932, as recorded by Italian graphic novelist Igort in his harrowing “The Story of Serafima Andreyevna,” from his Ukrainian Notebooks.



 

Albania

Then travel on to Albania for dissident Fatos Lubonja’s Second Sentence and scenes from his term in the infamous prison camp at Spaç, unheated even in the brutal February of 1979. 


 

Veneto, Italy

For another icy workplace, head to Mario Rigoni Stern’s “Christmas in 1945” and catch up with an Italian POW, just freed from a concentration camp, hiking up the frozen Veneto mountains for firewood to sell in the spring. 



Images (from the top): ​The valley basin of Verkhoyansk, Russia. From Wikimedia Commons; Moscow Kremlin photographed by Pavel Kazachkov, Flickr; Panel from “The Story of Serafima Andreyevna” by Igort, Translated by Jamie Richards; Prison at Gjirokastër Castle Albania. From Wikimedia Commons; Monte Serva da Mel and surrounding mountains. From Wikimedia Commons.