One woman’s story as an outsider in a reindeer-herding village in the Arctic Tundra, forging a life on her own in one of the most unknowable cultures on earth
An ancestry test suggesting she shared some DNA with the Sámi people, the indigenous inhabitants of the Arctic tundra, tapped into Laura Galloway’s wanderlust; an affair with a Sámi reindeer herder ultimately led her to leave New York for the tiny town of Kautokeino, Norway. When her new boyfriend left her unexpectedly after six months, it would have been easy, and perhaps prudent, to return home. But she stayed for six years.
Dálvi is the story of Laura’s time in a reindeer-herding village in the Arctic, forging a solitary existence as she struggled to learn the language and make her way in a remote community for which there were no guidebooks or manuals for how to fit in. Her time in the North opened her to a new world. And it brought something else as well: reconciliation and peace with the traumatic events that had previously defined her – the sudden death of her mother when she was three, a difficult childhood and her lifelong search for connection and a sense of home.
Both a heart-rending memoir and a love letter to the singular landscape of the region, Dálvi explores with great warmth and humility what it means to truly belong.
Q&A with Laura Galloway
Why did you want to write Dálvi: Six Years in Arctic Tundra?
I’d spent several years in the Arctic, during which time I experienced an entirely new place and culture and also got to know myself better owing to the fact I was alone so much. To me, memoir writing is a way of making sense of one’s life, and Dálvi is a result of that process for me.
Did you learn anything new about yourself in the process?
The whole memoir is filled with the journey and the things I learned about myself; but a small thing I learned is that I am really ok in extremely cold temperatures!
What would you like your readers to take away from the story?
I’d like people to know that home, and family, are things you self create. There is much love and connection to be found in the world as long as you are open.
Best and worst thing about being a writer?
I love it when readers identify with my story and particularly if sharing my own journey, including the painful parts, is helpful to others as they journey through their own lives. The worst part of being a writer for me is battling procrastination!
Tell us something about yourself that not many people know:
Favourite food (that you can cook)? Oatmeal and dark chocolate chip cookies!
How to brighten a dark day?
A cosy blanket, pets, and a good book.
Finally, what is the question you wish people would ask and never do?
It’s a great question – one for which I have no good answer!
Laura Galloway is a writer and communications strategist. She began her career at the Los Angeles Times and holds a Master of Arts in Indigenous Journalism from the Sámi University of Applied Sciences in Kautokeino, Norway, and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the University of Southern California. An ardent animal lover, she and her partner live with her two reindeer-herding dogs and two cats.
DÁLVI – SIX YEARS IN THE ARCTIC TUNDRA
3 February 2022| Paperback | £9.99 |
Allen & Unwin | 9781911630685