Absolution: a novel
, 1991 - Fiction
- 259 pages
In his dazzling literary debut in the English language, Olafur Johann Olafsson - one of Iceland's preeminent and best-selling writers of fiction - gives us the putative memoirs of an Icelandic expatriate living in New York in the autumn of his life, a degenerate, self-styled captain of industry and aesthete who has endured two failed marriages and whose children are "a testimony to a mistake."
Peter Peterson is a man racked by nightmares of a crime of passion he may have committed half a century ago out of unrequited love, a crime that has shaped the rest of his life. His memoirs - a confession ranging from his placid bourgeois boyhood in Reykjavik, to his days as a student in Nazi-occupied Denmark, to his ferocious rise as an immigrant entrepreneur in New York - are refracted not only through his paranoia, manipulativeness, vanity, crazed cynicism, and wry humor, but also through the sensibility of a compulsive fellow countryman who has translated and edited Peterson's scribblings in the settling of Peterson's estate - and who might have made them very much his own.
Sly, highly intelligent, and lucid, Absolution is a brilliant anatomy of obsession, desire, and self-deception.