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Longlisted for the Center for Fiction’s 2021 First Novel Prize

‘Picaresque, gentle and slyly humorous; the glacial beauty of the northern landscape is the backdrop to arresting horrors, concealed passions, and a lifetime of kindnesses – all superbly rendered by Miller: a joy to read’ Oisin Fagan, author of Nobber

In 1916, Sven Ormson leaves Stockholm to seek adventure in Svalbard, an Arctic archipelago where darkness reigns four months of the year, and where he might witness the splendour 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 outsiders and determines the course of the rest of his life.

Inspired by a real person 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.

Reviews

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
Andrea Barrett, National Book Award–winning author of The Voyage of the Narwhal and Ship Fever
Both a polar adventure and a consideration of what makes our lives worth living
Caitlin Horrocks, author of The Vexations
The magic of The Memoirs of Stockholm Sven is in its defiance of dark expectations . . . 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
In attempting to inhabit the uninhabitable, one man shows us that no place is inhospitable to the human heart, and in delivering this searing portrait, Nathaniel Ian Miller ascends to the firmament of today's most exciting young novelists
Adam Johnson, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of The Orphan Master’s Son
This novel's hard-won wisdom, droll humor, and offhanded insights about human nature will pierce you to the core
Christina Baker Kline, New York Times bestselling author of Orphan Train and The Exiles
Miller's prose is lit by sparks of Sven's somber humor and descriptive elegance . . . Miller's characterization is exceptional and thoroughly engaging . . . vividly portrayed
Booklist, starred review
Captivating ... Miller offers a marvelously detailed look at a way of life and a profession practiced in an extreme environment, and though purportedly based on a historical figure, the character's colorfully rendered experiences are the stuff of powerful dramatic fiction
Publishers Weekly, starred review
Readers will love the beauty and depth of his story... A Swedish trapper relates his unique life with insights about friendship, hardship, and solitude
Kirkus, starred review
Picaresque, gentle and slyly humorous; the glacial beauty of the northern landscape is the backdrop to arresting horrors, concealed passions, and a lifetime of kindnesses - all superbly rendered by Miller: a joy to read
Oisin Fagan, author of Nobber
Transporting and wholly original . . . Inspired by a real man, this modern-day Call of the Wild is funny, moving and ceaselessly compelling
People Magazine