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Fyrirgefning syndanna
Olaf Olafsson
publisher: Vaka-Helgafell, Reykjavík, 1991

translated as:
Absolution
publisher: Querido, Amsterdam, 1994
translation: Olaf / Scudder Olafsson

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When a nameless young Icelander, working in New York, is asked by his boss to translate papers found in a locked vault of the recently deceased Peter Peterson, he acknowledges that 'sometimes... Peterson's words might just as easily have flowed from my own pen.' Indeed, both men settled permanently in the US, both allude to unhappy love affairs, and both men have – or had –-obsessive tendencies. But it is the shared failures in love that shape the story: failures at the heart of both lives, confusing memory and permanently wounding psyches. In his part of the story, moving back and forth from the past to the present, Peter, now a wealthy old man estranged from his family and cared for by a young woman whom he dreams of seducing but is too frail to do so, recalls a seminal comment of his father's. The change that his father observed in him after his year in Denmark explains, Peter thinks, his subsequent unsavory reputation as a businessman and parent. He recalls his tranquil middle-class childhood in Iceland: how in high school he fell in love with a fellow student, whom he followed to Denmark, obsessively pursuing her even though she saw other men; and how the Nazi invasion of Denmark precipitated the events that changed him forever. When the girl turned him down, preferring Jon, the handsome Resistance leader, Peter committed what he thought was a terrible crime, and fled Denmark. But there is a tape, the translator learns, made a few months before Peter's death, that suggests how strong and pervasive 'deception, pure and simple' may have been after all.

from: Kirkus Reviews

bookweb    
OLAF OLAFSSON'S BOOKSHELF

SOURCE MATERIAL
The Chief
David Nasaw, 2000
A comprehensive biography of William Randolph Hearst, the man who built the nation's first great media empire and saw its potential for shaping political discourse, influencing elections, and setting the national agenda.

THE THIRTIES
Billy Bathgate
E.L. Doctorow, 1989
Young Billy Bathgate witnesses atrocities of the crime world in his introduction to a brutal and unsparing life that takes him through the heart of the city and the rural underworld in Depression-era America.

BOOKS BY OLAF OLAFSSON:

Walking Into the Night
2003
–› Excerpt

An Icelandic butler in America wrestles with guilt and secret passions.
WHAT TO READ AFTER WALKING INTO THE NIGHT

COUNTRYMEN
Paradise Reclaimed
Halldór Laxness, 1960
An idealistic Icelandic farmer journeys to Mormon Utah and back in search of paradise.

The Journey Home
1999
In the remaining months of her life, a woman heads home to Iceland to confront her past.
READ ON...

Walking Into the Night
Olaf Olafsson, 2003

Absolution
1991
Peter Petersson is wracked with nightmares of the past. Now a dying man leading a degenerate life in New York, estranged from his family, he confesses everything, from his boyhood in Reykjavik to his escape from Nazi-occupied Denmark – and the 'little crime' that destroyed his life.
READ ON...

The Journey Home
Olaf Olafsson, 1999

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