A man finds his salvation on the remote island of Svalbard, in the Arctic Circle
Longlisted for the Center for Fiction's 2021 First Novel Prize
In 1916, Sven Ormson leaves Stockholm to seek adventure in Svalbard, an Arctic archipelago where darkness reigns four months of the year, where he might witness the splendor of the Northern Lights one night or be attacked by a polar bear the next. After a devastating accident while digging for coal, Sven heads north again and ends up on an uninhabited fjord living in a hut he builds, alone except for the company of a loyal dog, testing himself against the elements. Years into his routine isolation, the arrival of an unlikely visitor sparks a chain of events that brings Sven into a family of fellow castoffs and determines the course of the rest of his life.
Inspired by a real life character and written with wry humour, in prose as beautiful as the stark landscape it evokes, The Memoirs of Stockholm Sven is a testament to the strength of human bonds, reminding us that even in the most inhospitable conditions, we are not beyond the reach of love.
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