More figurative language from Olaf Olafsson….

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I like to share interesting pieces of figurative language I encounter in my reading. I write today about figurative language from Olaf Olafsson….

The Icelandic writer Olaf Olafsson has been a recent discovery of mine thanks to a New York Times review of his very fine 2019 novel The Sacrament.

Born in Reykjavík, Olafsson studied physics at Brandeis University. He went on to become a highly successful businessman who founded Sony Computer Entertainment in 1991 and became its first president and chief executive officer. During his six-year tenure there, he launched the PlayStation console, which would go onto generate major sales and profits for Sony. 

More than a mere businessman, however, Olafsson sought to pursue literary acclaim as well. He is the author of seven books and a recipient of the O. Henry Award and the Icelandic Literary Award. He was shortlisted for the Frank O’Connor Prize, and has twice been nominated for the IMPAC Award.

When I went to his backlist to explore earlier writing, I discovered One Station Away — a novel exploring the life of a New York neurologist and three women — his mother, his partner and a patient — who changed his life. Can’t say I enjoyed his book as much as I enjoyed The Sacrament but he nevertheless displays some fine figurative language.

Here are my favourite examples:

  • She moved constantly, even during the slow passages when her fingers scarcely brushed the keys, her arms, elbows out to the sides, rising and falling like giant spider legs.
  • [In my relationship] I felt as if I were opening a book in the middle and picking up the thread from there, without any need to flick back through the pages in order to remember the characters or the plot, because everything was clear as day.
  • Her words [were] like smoke rising into the air, drifting for a moment before disappearing.
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