The figurative language of Rumaan Alam….

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 Rumaan Alam….

An American writer of Bangladeshi origin, Rumaan Alam (pictured above), studied writing at Oberlin College and currently lives in New York. He is the author of three novels and he hosts two podcasts for Slate.

Alam’s most recent novel, Leave the World Behind was nominated for the 2020 National Book Award and earned enough “buzz” for me to want to seek it out. While I didn’t enjoy the sci-fi/horror-ish aspects of the story, I found his writing to be remarkably beautiful and filled with figurative language.

Here are my favourite examples:

  • The traffic congealed. Their gray car was a bell jar, a microclimate: air-conditioning, the funk of adolescence (sweat, feet, sebum), Amanda’s French shampoo, the rustle of debris, for there always was that.
  • Kids were always needing a Band-Aid, pink skin splitting like summer fruit.
  • Archie was sixteen. He wore misshapen sneakers the size of bread loaves.
  • The call was a relief. She wanted her colleagues to need her as God wants people to keep praying.
  • He slowed the car because the road was curvy, a seductive hip switched back and forth.
  • He couldn’t hear the children carrying on in the pool. The house between him and them was not so large, but the trees absorbed their noise as cotton might blood.
  • Archie and Rose were in the hot tub, pink as cooking lobsters.
  • …The lights flickered. Not once nor twice; four times, like a message in Morse that they had to decipher.
  • Amanda stroked the countertop like it was a pet.
  • In the hour and a half drive his fear had doubled like resting dough.
  • Amanda actually wrung her hands like an amateur character actor.
Scroll to Top