Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Absolution - Olaf Olafsson

It is very rare that you like a novel whose protagonist is a dislikable character. But, that alone isn't the reason why I do not think high about this book. It definitely readable but not one that require re-read. First novel in English, by the Icelandic writer, who is currently residing in the US. On his personal side, I understand he is the vice president of a large media and entertainment empire.

Petur Petursson, an icelandic emigre to the US lives his last days of life reminiscing the old days. On his part, he document his reminiscence in paper ( and later on tape! ), which posthumously gets to the attorney who decides to go through these pages. Peter ( as he changed his name to the anglicised world) suffers from the crime he supposed to have committed half a century ago , which caused him loose his once girlfriend and had to flee to US ( and from himself). Ever since, his life was directly or indirectly controlled by the guilt that he carried on himself. Unable to be a good husband, a good father to his children, he lived all his life on increasing his financial position, while at work and while running a successful enterprise.

Now living alone, divorced from his second wife, negotiated the separation contract to his advantage ( still convincing himself, that he has given more than what the family deserved) , continuously insulting and ridiculing his son , whenever they attempt to speak or reconcile with him. A Cambodian lady, living with him to take care of his errands, cook and nurse him, in company along with his collection of exotic wines, he lives an isolated life. His suspicion is that his wife and children ( especially his daughter) is plotting to see his death ( He even refuses to attend the funeral of his ex-wife, despite the pleading of his son to visit the mother in her death bed and to attend the funeral later). Because of which, he do not trust the assistant too, whom he depends on his daily routine, completely.

He had left his home town in Iceland, to pursue his study in Denmark, and to follow his love as she moved to Copenhagen. The days were the peak of the WWII, and like every European country, Denmark was also occupied by German soldiers. Though the love ( at least on his part) flourished in the initial months, the girl supposed to have found another friend and start spending more of her time with him. Vengeful, and plotting and even dreaming ( one dream sequence where he managed to kill him with a revolver in an isolated place, and leaving the blame to the Germans) of removing his perceived villain from the scene. As many Icelanders, he too decides to leave the mainland Europe to the safer havens, but not before making sure that his "enemy" has been done in , by informing the German soldiers about his involvement in the underground resistance movement. Though the 'informer' remain a secret, the guilt on him was immediate and was lasting till his days to grave.

A "Crime and Punishment" type of novel, but much plain and simple. While the central character is strong, the rest of the plot did not have any moment of stickiness.
Anchor Publishers

272 Pages

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