the moon, toes numb in my muddy boots from having
Those days were now far behind me, a distant memory
like a smoker with a phantom cigarette. As I look up at
are no distractions. Only work and nature and time.
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.
their work and my media job, and did you read such and
– or money problems and how busy everyone was.
moon lies flat against the hard blue twilight sky, so low
being scooped out of a reindeer carcass as it’s field-dressed
of the person I was, tucked away like the dozens of utterly
About the Author
miles away in Manhattan, collecting dust and losing
you feel as if you could easily touch it. It illuminates everything:
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.
blinding flurry of hooves and poop and antlers, to my
hair and clothing and settling into my pores. This is a
unless you happened to be the lucky recipient of a spectacular
Dalvi: Six Years in the Arctic Tundra by Laura Galloway was published by Allen & Unwin on 3 February 2022.
everyone growing louder and more maudlin, until it was
I was breaking open and falling apart, and to reveal
or smoking reindeer meat in a tent called a lávvu while
over, faded into a history of Saturdays just like every other
what was happening in the increasingly worrying political
drinking bitter black coffee, the smoke clinging to my
about the Monday to come and how I would hang on one
Today I have an extract to share.
an extent of which no one around me was really aware,
twists and turns in our stories that we could never
relevance. In my old life, tomorrow I would be heading
by a grunting Sámi man named Odd Ha tta with a giant
green tarp, alongside a handful of others, guiding
this weakness and vulnerability to anyone might have
dry and braid into shoes for the brittle winter to come,
me me, to a place where I now think nothing of not showering
for three days straight, and Saturday involves
warm breath hitting the rimy cold night sky in plumes
absolute insanity and marvel of life, and of the improbable
a remote part of the Norwegian Arctic. A giant buttery
landscape. And, of course, there would have been talk
One year ago, a Saturday night would not have involved
Freezing cold and tired, I am holding on to a long
to City Bakery for an iced coffee, with crippling anxiety
knife. One year ago, I would have been walking through
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.
with a family of Sámi herders, watching steaming blood
And then the evening would have slowly unravelled,
standing on the frozen expanse of the Finnmark plateau
late-night Laura Galloway Ambien and red-wine
one that came before it, followed by a sharp hangover the
useless high-heeled shoes that sat with all my other
such in the New Yorker, and what show was on at MoMA or
more day in a life that was becoming unmanageable to
caused me to die of shame. But the universe seemed to
everything I knew, and everything that I thought made
place where you have to be with yourself because there
bring the reindeer in from the tundra, I am struck by the
begin to imagine.
reindeer into an enormous holding enclosure in
everything back in full view in an endless cycle.
from the jumpy reindeer moving en masse, a
of relationship problems – and there were always problems
earthly possessions in a storage area some two thousand
Union Square in New York on my way to a progressively
About the Book
stood for what feels like hours waiting for the herders to
have plans for me, ones that would take me outside of
boozy dinner with friends, spending hours talking about
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.
helping chop wood for a fence-post, or cutting reeds to
next day, a raft of emails and stress and worries about
the moon, toes numb in my muddy boots from having