Emma Donoghue and her figurative language

Reading time: Less than 1 minute

I like to share interesting pieces of figurative language I encounter in my reading. I write today about a series of similes from Emma Donoghue….

As a long-term fan of Emma Donoghue, I was disappointed that her latest novel, Akin, didn’t meet my expectations.

Nevertheless, I know many people who enjoyed the book, so if you’re also a Donoghue acolyte, you may like this one as well. (I found the story not interesting enough to me, and the writing a bit plodding.)

Donoghue is a successful writer on many levels. In addition to her award-winning novels, she also writes for stage, screen and radio. In fact, she wrote the screenplay for her novel Room (a movie starring Brie Larson).  The movie receive four Academy Awards nominations, including Best Picture, and also won nine Canadian Screen Awards, including Best Motion Picture, and seven Irish Film & Television Awards, including Best Film.

Still, even in her less successful efforts, Emma Donoghue is capable of some fine figurative language. Here are my favourite examples from Akin:

  • Amber pressed his handkerchief over her eyes, hard, like Justice’s blindfold.
  • The boy curled up on the couch with his cracked phone. He scrolled, flicked; delicate finger movements, as if he were stroking a kitten.
  • “You know how that molecule’s shaped? A double spiral.” Noah drew it on the air. “Like a twisted rope ladder.”
  • Over the intercom, a flight attendant said, “It is easier to pack coats around bags than bags around coats.” Then she repeated it in French, which made it sound even more like a zen koan.
  • Outside the terminal, the sun stabbed him in the pupils and the air smelled almost floral, despite the tang of fuel.
  • Noah lay in the dark, a patient, crazed prosecutor building a case against his own mother.
  • So many ways Noah couldn’t protect this boy; it was like traveling with a bag of bananas he had little chance of delivering unbruised.
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