Not Yet Published
Set in the decades between the two World Wars, the captivating story of one man who banishes himself to a solitary life in the Arctic Circle, and is saved by good friends, a loyal dog, and a surprise visit that changes everything
In 1916, Sven Ormson leaves a restless life in Stockholm to seek adventure in Svalbard, an Arctic archipelago where darkness reigns four months of the year and he might witness the splendor of the Northern Lights one night and be attacked by a polar bear the next. But his time as a miner ends when an avalanche nearly kills him, leaving him disfigured, and Sven flees even further, to an uninhabited fjord. There, with the company of a loyal dog, he builds a hut and lives alone, testing himself against the elements.
The teachings of a Finnish fur trapper, along with encouraging letters from his family and a Scottish geologist who befriended him in the mining camp, get him through his first winter. Years into his routine isolation, the arrival of an unlikely visitor salves his loneliness, sparking a chain of surprising events that will bring Sven into a family of fellow castoffs and determine the course of the rest of his life.
Written with wry humor and in prose as breathtaking as the stark landscape it evokes, The Memoirs of Stockholm Sven is a testament to the strength of our human bonds, reminding us that even in the most inhospitable conditions on the planet, we are not beyond the reach of love.
About the Author
Nathaniel Ian Miller, who holds an MFA in Creative Writing and MS in Environmental Studies from the University of Montana, is a former resident in the Arctic Circle Expeditionary Program. He has written for Virginia Quarterly Review, and for newspapers in Wisconsin, New Mexico, Montana, and Colorado, for which he received multiple Associated Press Awards. He lives with his family on a farm in central Vermont.
“A kind of Odyssey, complete with dogs worthy of Argos and a few precious human companions, this spare and unusual novel plumbs the dark side of polar narratives. Sven, as mysterious to himself as he is to us, is an unforgettable character.”—Andrea Barrett, National Book Award–winning author of The Voyage of the Narwhal and Ship Fever
“The magic of The Memoirs of Stockholm Sven is in its defiance of dark expectations. Sven is a bright but disaffected urban bookworm who moves to one of the most forbidding landscapes on earth, finds dangerous work, suffers a hideous maiming, and hides his appearance by retreating into even greater isolation. And it is here, at the doorway to unmitigated despair, that Nathaniel Ian Miller truly surprises and shines. For all Sven’s damages, his desolation makes each visitor indelible, as into his arctic dystopia traipses a cast of emotionally damaged misfits, estranged family members, military outlaws whose crime is love, an irresistible scrounge of a dog, a gifted trapper of few words and a kind geologist of many, until we are regaled with some of the most convincing portrayals I’ve seen of human beings creating connection and kindnesses despite their brutal circumstances and unhealed wounds.”—David James Duncan, author of the national bestsellers The River Why and The Brothers K
“Nathaniel Ian Miller’s vision of the Arctic is one of sharp-toothed beauty and harrowing, clarifying hardship. The men and women who manage to survive the landscape are transformed by the effort, forced to question who they are and who they want to be. Their surprising, rule-breaking lives invite the reader on both a polar adventure and a consideration of what makes our lives worth living.”—Caitlin Horrocks, author of The Vexations