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The Affirmation (GOLLANCZ S.F.) Paperback – 9 Feb 2006


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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Gollancz; New Ed edition (9 Feb. 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0575075775
  • ISBN-13: 978-0575075771
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1.9 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 768,436 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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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)

Book Description

A haunting thriller from one of Britain's most exciting writers

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By S. Bentley VINE VOICE on 14 Aug. 2009
Format: Paperback
Christopher Priest is, as I've mentioned in another view the British middle class answer to Philip K. Dick. His work deals with the very notion of self, how we form our identities and how fragile those identities might be, wrapped into a metafictional narrative that acknowledges its own artifice at the very same moment that it celebrates it.

Like the Glamour, a story about the dissipation of identity and surety, the Affirmation takes its narrator, Peter Sinclair and then deconstructs him, strips away his identity and rebuilds it to the point where neither the narrator nor the reader knows for sure who this man is and what reality he exists in.

Peter has some kind of dissociative episode after losing his job and breaking up with his girlfriend. His life is bereft of meaning, so he tries to give it one; first by writing his life out, then by turning that life into a story. Recognising that there is no meaning to life, he begins to fictionalise his life, creating analogues for London, his girlfriend, his family, but finding that the fiction does not directly map onto reality, he finds the edges blurring between one and the other. The fiction bleeds into reality and perceptions are flipped.

The prose is completely gripping. Sinclair could come across as a particularly whiny member of the chattering classes, but his predicament and imagination make up for this. Priest is able to compelling create worlds to the point where you're not sure which is the more real and has things to say about escapism and real life along the way.

The Affirmation is an affirmation of life, just as it is an affirmation of the power of fiction. It is a blueprint for our postmodern lives, and needs to be read.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A. Whitehead TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 6 Feb. 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Eileen Shaw TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 6 Jun. 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I don't think this book will suit everyone, but I found myself mesmerised by the intensity and power of the prose. It is literary and polished, and it goes in a series of curious directions, defying logic by folding back upon itself as the tortuous turns of the plot dictates. I found myself pulled into the slipstream of hypnotic prose, worried about the state of mind of the narrator, even as he took further steps away from a safe, normal, or ordinary existence. There are moments when one of the worlds he inhabits seem to bleed into another. Curiously enough this doesn't worry the protagonist - he can keep going until things stabilise around him. This book produces ideas, it plays with them, and then leaves the reader to sort it out for herself. What is it about?

Well, that's the thing. It's partly about the nature of the self, the conclusion we come to when we ask ourselves, "who am I?" The narrator, Peter, at one point, is sure only of his age and his name, but he also believes that, during the course of his wandering an other-worldly island archipelago he has entered a lottery, which confers immortality upon the winner - and he has won. It means he has to give up his current memories and have them re-conferred once all his physical attributes have been washed clean in order that he can live forever. This process is only complicated by Peter, who insists that he has already written his life-story and he doesn't have to fill in the obligatory forms. He merges in and out of two or perhaps more than two worlds and is frequently in a parallel world where he is wandering the limitless archipelago with a beautiful young companion called Siri.
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