The Box of Sand

Aisha Ibrahim

It is 1911 and Sandro Compartini has just graduated from the Journalism Institute in Milan. He boards a steamer as a soldier in the 84th Corps, sent from Italy to war in Libya. While stationed in a trench in the desert, he falls in love with a milk seller from Tripoli, but she and her younger brother are arrested and sent to the Italian penal colonies after the bloody attack on al-Manshiyya Quarter in which their mother is killed. The novel then follows Sandro after his discharge from the army and return to Italy.  Drawing on an archive of articles in the Italian and English press from this period, Ibrahim’s novel exposes a dark and unreported side of the war, when Libyan girls, pregnant women, mothers and children were rounded up and imprisoned without any charges or standing trial.        




2023 Longlist