The figurative language of Olaf Olafsson….

Reading time: About 1 minute

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

I often enjoy the clear, crisp, unadorned style of Scandinavian writers. I was struck by that feeling again recently when I read a 2017 novel by Icelandic author, Olaf Olafsson (pictured above).

Yes, I know that — technically — Iceland is not part of Scandinavia. But there are plenty of cultural, historic and linguistic ties between these countries and if you read this novel, I think you’ll have to agree.

The Sacrament tells the story of a young nun who is sent by the Vatican to investigate allegations of misconduct at a Catholic school in Iceland. A sophisticated amalgam of ‘whodunnit’ and literary fiction, the book also offers some fine figurative language.

Here are my favourite examples:

  • His handshake was as I remembered, so limp it was like clutching air.
  • His voice was just as I remembered so soothing that sometimes only when he had finished speaking did the implication of his words become clear.
  • The writing was flimsy and pusillanimous the author so painfully circumspect, that finally I had to stop reading.
  • But the turbulence hasn’t started yet, and when I look out my window, I see the sun ahead of us and the illuminated clouds which looked like scattered ornaments in the sky.

Although successful as a writer, Olafsson  is best known for his time at Sony where he founded and became the first president and chief executive officer of Computer Entertainment Inc. He is even  better known for his role in creating the PlayStation video game console.

His four novels have received critical acclaim and been published in more than twenty languages. He is the recipient of the O. Henry Award and the Icelandic Literary Award, was shortlisted for the Frank O’Connor Prize.