The figurative language of David Chariandy…

Reading time: About 1 minute

I like to share interesting pieces of figurative language I encounter in my reading. I write today about similes and metaphors from Canadian novelist David Chariandy….

A Canadian writer, who won the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize in 2017, David Chariandy (pictured above), grew up in Toronto and now lives and teaches in Vancouver, at Simon Fraser University.

I recently read his prize-winning novel Brother, and while I found the story too bleak for my taste, I enjoyed and respected Chariandy’s skill with figurative language. Here are my favourite examples:

  • [The photo] showed a man with a moustache groomed so carefully it looked painted on. 
  • His skin was much darker than mother’s, but we had been told that he was not black like her, but something called “Indian” — although this identity seemed lost in the poorness of the photograph, or in the trowel-thick application of Brylcreem in his hair, as artificial as the black snap-on do of Lego Man.
  • She cupped his chin and touched the growing shadow of his moustache. She pinched his earlobe lightly between her thumb and finger as if it were a raindrop from a leaf, then reached to gently pluck something from his hair.
  • The combination of the sweat and glare made her face shine like a mask, and she looked a bit like an actor who’d stumbled accidentally onto a stage and who now, too late, had to figure out her role.
  • I walk home in the dark. I’m hunched down against the wind and cold, and there is a needled burning in my spine.
  • I carefully closed the drapes and drank water mixed with spoons of sugar for taste and it ran out of my skin like I was some spaghetti sieve.
  • A sleety rain was blowing hard against our faces, the sky the bitter colour of road salt.

An earlier version of this post first appeared on my blog on Oct. 18/18.

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