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The Affirmation [Hardcover]

Christopher Priest


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Hardcover, May 25 1981 --  
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Book Description

May 25 1981
From the author of "Fugue for a Darkening Island" and "The Glamour", comes a new elaborate science fantasy novel. Winner of the British Science Fiction Award, Christopher Priest was featured in the Book Marketing Council's "Best of Young British" promotion.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Review

"With formidable imagination and ingenuity, Christopher Priest turns the novel into an Escher tessellation in which figure and ground are interchangeable. Bringing home to the power of narrative to steal reality, affirming nothing, it abandons us mid sentence, posed between page and world, discomfited and hyper-aware." -- Sam Thompson TIMES LITERARY SUPPLEMENT --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

Christopher Priest's novels have built him an inimitable dual reputation as a contemporary novelist and a leading figure in modern SF and fantasy. His novel THE PRESTIGE is unique in winning both a major literary prize (the James Tait Black Award) and a major genre prize (The World Fantasy Award); THE SEPARATION won both the Arthur C Clarke and the British Science Fiction Awards. He was selected for the original Best of Young British Novelists in1983. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  6 reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mind-blowing Feb. 6 2009
By A. Whitehead - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
The Affirmation is the eighth novel by British SF author Christopher Priest, originally published in 1981. As with his later novels The Prestige and moreso The Separation, The Affirmation is a book about identity, truth, perception and perspective which rewards multiple readings and is open to many interpretations of what is happening.

A 29-year-old man named Peter Sinclair is tormented by the death of his father, an unhappy relationship with a woman named Gracia and the loss of his job in London. Offered an opportunity to fix up the dilapidated country house of a friend of his late father's, he jumps at the chance. Whilst performing this job he becomes obsessed with the idea of writing his autobiography and defining his life through words. But, anxious to protect the identities of real people, he changes their names, then the names of the places they live, then the very nature of the world they exist in.

But that may be a lie.

A 31-year-old man named Peter Sinclair is living in the city of Jethra, part of the great nation of Faiandland. Unexpectedly, he wins the Lotterie-Collago. The prize is a course of treatment given on the distant southern island of Collago, which grants the recipient immortality but only at the price of total amnesia. On his way through the islands he meets and falls in love with a woman named Seri, but is occasionally haunted by thoughts of a manuscript he wrote two years ago, the story of his life with some of the names and places changed.

That may also be a lie.

The Affirmation utterly defies any attempt to summarise it. It is a twisting and at times bewildering novel that moves between at least three different levels of reality, and each of those is open to multiple interpretations. Peter is really a native of a different, although similar, world and our planet and everything on it is a figment of his imagination. Peter is really a Londoner suffering a total mental collapse in the wake of personal tragedy. He is suffering from amnesia, or schizophrenia, or an acute solipsist, or all three. The manuscripts are real, or only exist in his head. The manuscript he is writing is the actual novel itself, forming a Mobius strip of narrative and causality that loops back in on itself: when you reach the end of the novel, which literally finishes in mid-sentence, you can go back to the start and re-read it as its own sequel, with greater understanding.

Priest does his usual thing here of using a clean, easily readable prose style which lures the reader into a false sense of security until the story's second level of interpretation and reality kicks in, leaving the reader confused as to what is happening. And just when you adjust for that, something else happens that hints at a grander but stranger truth yet. The Affirmation is a puzzle, but not necessarily a puzzle with a single solution, which makes it a fiendishly addictive read.

The Affirmation (*****) is one of the most original and mind-blowing books I have read, somehow even eclipsing The Separation in what it asks from the reader and the possible answers it gives out. The novel is available in the UK from Gollancz and in the USA from Pocket Books. The latter is out of print, but Amazon.com still has some copies available.
9 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful book... Sept. 6 2005
By P Smith - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
...but I think that the disturbing ending would have been somewhat spoiled if I'd read the review by "thatwhichfalls" before I read it. An incisive review, thatwhichfalls, but why the spoiler?
5.0 out of 5 stars Riveting and non-satisfying, yet another gem from Priest Feb. 19 2014
By Umesh - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
An extremely unconventional story.

The story starts with a narration or may be a second degree narration or may be not.
The great thing about this novel is that there is never an explanation for what is happening until the end when it is most needed leaving you hungry for more and then you are on your own.

The protagonists are both equally believable, the touch of realism in both stories is so stark that each act as an evidence to contradict each other.

Buy it and dont expect a spoon-fed narration about why things are the way they are. The unanswered why, how and what are the best part.
5.0 out of 5 stars A thoughtful and engaging story that seduces the reader into a world more engaging than the one we currently inhabit. Jan. 6 2014
By Paul Brooks - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
"The Affirmation" by Christopher Priest

"This much I know for sure: My name is Peter Sinclair." the opening line of "The Affirmation".

"The Affirmation" (1981) is a thoughtful and engaging story that seduces the reader into a world more engaging than the one we currently inhabit.

On a lark Peter Sinclair purchased a lottery ticket. He took pity on the seller, a handicapped veteran of the current forever war, so he gave him some business. Against astronomical odds Sinclair won the grand prize: a qualified immortality. After the treatments he would not age or grow senile but would still be subject to death by misadventures. Peter must leave his home in London and travel with a female guide to a distant island in "The Dream Archipelago" to receive the treatments.

Peter's life in London was a strangely convoluted series of discordant events: writing a biography in an emotional stupor, a troubled liaison with a suicidal young women and a conflicted sibling relationship. He gladly escaped with his guide and his manuscript.

During the interminable sea voyage Peter muse on whether he wants to "live forever", should he return to his lady friend and the extent and diversity of the Dream Archipelago.

To say more would be unkind to potential readers. I was fascinated by this story and am very pleased that Mr. Priest has another novel in the Dream Archipelago. On these cold dreary winter days there is no other place I would want to be, perhaps.
1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Swirling Postmodern Madness Dec 30 1999
By Matthew J. Wolf-Meyer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Priest offers a dazzling account of nebulous reality, crumbling identity and schizophrenia. Unfortuantely, Priest like many others before him, has been incorrectly labeled a science fiction author. Nothing, especially in this case, could be further from the truth. Priest is concerned with the nature of our reality, the ways in which we as inhabitants perceive and interpret it, and the uses of fantasy. Without a doubt, "The Affirmation" requires a rereading and can only be helped by readings of related philosophy texts (see Berkeley & Dennet).
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