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The Affirmation

3.95 of 5 stars 3.95  ·  rating details  ·  842 ratings  ·  83 reviews
Peter Sinclair is tormented by bereavement and failure. In an attempt to conjure some meaning from his life, he embarks on an autobiography, but he finds himself writing the story of another man in another, imagines, world whose insidious attraction draws him even further in...
Paperback, 213 pages
Published February 21st 1983 by Arena (first published January 1st 1981)
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May 20, 2011 Kevin rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Kevin by: Bart Everson
I'm not sure what I just read but I am sure of two things: I loved it, and I will re-read it. I will read it again not just because I loved it, but because I want to understand it better, and want to pick it apart, and put it back together even though I'm not confident that it can be done.

I was captivated at first with some fairly mundane parallels to my life, an easy attraction to an everyday protagonist that just happens to share some of my mannerisms, feelings, thought processes.

Then around p
Jan 09, 2015 Wastrel rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Lovers of accessible, mind-bending literary fiction on the border of fantasy
Not recommended for: people who like their books to be straightforward, easily understandable, and conventional. Also people who want their books to include Exciting Things Happening.

Special Interests covered: mental illness, philosophy.


A plain description of the novel would make it sound like a firework display of postmodern literary exuberance; but in fact it is anything but. It's a surprisingly low-key work, in its prose (quite quotidian), pacing (very measured), and mood (ruminating). It d
Ben Loory
of all the writers i don't like, christopher priest is probably my favorite. i first found him through his book The Inverted World, which was on david pringle's top 100 sci-fi books of all time list (and has since been re-released by nyrb books, one of their only sf titles). that was a dazzlingly smart book about a warped world where civilization was driven around on rails to stay at the center of a kind of gravity well or something, i don't know, told in a kind of detached, reticent manner that ...more
David Hebblethwaite
Having lost his father, job, home, and relationship, all in quick succession, Peter Sinclair is at his lowest ebb. He takes on some work helping to renovate a friend’s country cottage; inspired by his ability to turn his vision for one of the room’s into reality, Peter resolves to write his autobiography, in the hope that, by doing so, he can make some sense of his life. After trying various approaches, he decides that the best way to achieve what he wants is to write metaphorically about his li ...more
This book resists all efforts to define and pin it down. I would say that essentially this is a story of a man and his troubled relationship with the people around him, in particular his lover Glacia, and most importantly his self. But there are elements and themes that one might well find in SF or fantasy.

He attempts to define himself by writing down his past. But he is dissatisfied and rewrites it, each time becoming more abstract, more inventive until he constructs a fully imagined world but
Mira, Elías, solo he tardado seis meses. En papel.

Aparte de eso, un buen libro, muy a la Dick, donde el narrador es tan poco confiable como se pueda ser. El estilo es bueno, algo difuso en cierto momento; un momento muy concreto, algo que seguramente es intencionado pero no acabo de tener claro si funciona bien. Pese a que parece que la idea es romper el libro en dos, para mí algo —algo pequeño, si quieren, llámenme princesita del guisante— se pierde en el camino.

Solo el final, y por final ent
Tudor Ciocarlie
A dazzling meditation on memory and how it defines us, on schizophrenia, on reality and fiction, on the writer and his creation.

The Dream Archipelago, The Islanders and The Affirmation are together a masterpiece of literary fiction. I cannot imagine a reader who (regardless of what she/he normally reads) is not touched and whose life is not a little changed after the encounter with these wonderful writings.
Ricardo Mendes
Depois de terminar a sua relação de forma dramática com Gracia, Peter Sinclair resolve escrever a sua autobiografia. Uma biografia baseada unicamente na memória com o objectivo de obter a mais pura da verdade, mas para isso Peter começou a usar a ficção pois a realidade não era suficientemente boa para descrever a verdade. Tudo isto é confuso mas no fim temos uma autobiografia verdadeira mas ao mesmo tempo ficcional.

No seu manuscrito as pessoas que com quem se cruzou durante a vida tem outros no
Rahul Nair
Christopher Priest is a genius, he writes in what we can call his own genre of science fiction. There hasnt been any before him and don't think there would be any after. And that tells you why this author remains one of the most grossly underrated among the literary giants we keep hearing in day to day life.

The Affirmation is about our narrator (Peter Sinclair) for who has been struggling to somehow stabilize his life together. All this only happens till he decides to write about himself

From the
Si Barron
Hmmm- a distinctly odd one this. I can’t make up my mind whether to declare love or hate for it. On the one hand it explores all the tropes that interest me: delusion, memory, identity, strange lands, alienation; on the other: not much happens and when it does it happens ploddingly and often repeats itself.

Also, we are never on a sure footing because we don’t know which world (of two) to believe in. We certainly can’t trust the narrator, who may be going through a mental breakdown, and is very
Nick Duretta
At times an uncomfortable love story, at times a science fiction tale, at times an other-world fantasy, this novel ultimately is a portrait of a man's descent into madness, even as he struggles to retain his grasp on reality. Peter Sinclair's reality, however, in which his father has just died and his girlfriend has left him, becomes increasingly confused with that of a manuscript he is writing. In this manuscript he lives in another world with bizarre place names and geography. He wins a "lotte ...more
This story is disorienting, unreliable, evasive - but in a good way. I read it twice (the second read immediately after the first), and after the second read I wondered if I should read it again. This book has an unhealthy relationship with the reader, much like the main character's relationship with his world(s).

It's both easy and difficult to describe. Peter Sinclair, the main character, decides to write his autobiography in an attempt to understand and define himself. But sticking to the fact
Felix Zilich
Питеру Синклеру было 28, когда за считанные дни он лишился работы, дома, любимой девушки и родного отца. Не успел парень даже заметить, как работа неожиданно закончилась, квартиру продали новым хозяевам, отец умер от инсульта, а девушка ушла и попыталась покончить с собой. Лишившись всех прежних жизненных ориентиров, Питер осознал, что в этой жизни ему больше не на что надеяться, следовательно, все лучшее уже далеко позади.

Поселившись в загородном коттедже, любезно представленном ему на время д
"There is a deeper truth in fiction because memory is faulty." - This is an unusual book about a young man, Peter, who is experiencing a crisis of identity. His girlfriend left him, his father has died and he lost his job. A friend of his late father organizes a run-down place for him to stay at, which he is supposed to renovate. Peter believes that to know himself he needs to write down his own story, something that will define him. He starts an autobiography that he increasingly fictionalizes; ...more
Mi chiedo se Nolan non si sia anche lontanamente ispirato a questo romanzo per il suo Inception.
Come Cobb anche Peter Sinclair, il protagonista, vive una problematica vita tra la realtà, Londra, la sua famiglia, la fidanzata, e una sorta di sogno, il Dream Achipelago, la lotteria per l'immortalità di Collago, una nuova amante di nome Seri. In entrambe queste vite Peter cerca di definire se stesso attraverso i suoi ricordi che ha riversato in due manoscritti. Ma i ricordi sono mischiati, manipol
Jeremy Bagai
Grabs you with an unreliable narrator and multiple interpretations of text and reality -- the way Christopher Priest likes to do.

Generates page-turning excitement as you struggle to determine which levels are "true" and which are "delusions" and how they relate to each other -- the way Christopher Priest hopes to do.

Annoys you with a somewhat unsatisfying ending that fails to resolve the unresolvable (Perhaps you should start the novel again immediately, to reread it with the deeper (incomplete
So far I have read 3 C Priest novels and I utterly love the style of the author and the books are so compelling that you do not want to stop, though The Prestige kind of faded quickly from my memory, while The Separation left me with a somewhat bitter taste ( on further reflection, i think that's a book that people with an emotional connection to Britain will enjoy most, rather than a pure nationalistic British book that I originally thought)

The Affirmation gets back to the personal stage and fo
I have literally just finished the last page of this book and all I can say is WOW! I really didn't think I was going to enjoy this, but as the stories of the two Peter's started to overlap and then bleed into each other, I got more and more engrossed. The ending was really good, like a gentle blow to the head!

The reason that I picked this out of my TBR pile was that I had just read an article on it in a magazine. I now understand what they mean about the book being it's own sequel - you could r
Kevin Kelsey
I genuinely can't decide if I liked this or not. I certainly enjoyed reading it, but doing so was somewhat like losing my mind. I also have a suspicion that Priest crafted the novel precisely to elicit this effect in the reader, which makes me respect it even more in an odd way. All in all, I'm very confused, but I still enjoyed it. The closest conclusion I can come to is that The Affirmation is a story about mental illness, or maybe alternate realities, or maybe self identity, or maybe somethin ...more
Nicholas Whyte

I had a chat with Chris Priest at Eastercon, and asked him which of his books I should read that I had not read - I am familiar with both his early and his most recent work, but less clear on the middle. Without hesitation, he said that The Affirmation, published in 1981, is the book that his earlier novels lead to and his later works reflect on. A kind spouse got it for my birthday a couple of weeks ago and I devoured it this weekend in post-election ha
S. M.
If you are interested in insanity and love ambiguous endings, this book is for you.

Otherwise, look elsewhere.

The concept and execution of this book were good, but it left me feeling annoyed and vaguely ill.

A young man is on a journey to discover himself, and he's bringing you along. But because he doesn't really know who he is, neither do you, so you can't really like him.

Instead, what drives you through the story are a series of plot points that confuse you as to which of two worlds is the real
Sue Davis
Wonderful. The image mentioned in the introduction of the two hands drawing each other in the M.C. Escher drawing provided the basis for my understanding of the novel. British Borges with elements of Cortazar? The narrator is trying to establish his identity by writing down his memories but he gets off the track or does he? I was intrigued by the comment that one of the countries at war was feudal while the other was socialist--the author left it at that.
Anthony Bolton
Like most Priest the first half is a buildup , a staging for a vertigo inducing reality fold , a mind - bending ,discombobulating sequence of events that while not exactly unexpected are executed with such brilliance and emotional truth that one reads with a sense of awe and dismay .The reality set up in the first half (which is ours in every detectable way ) is capsized at last by a gradual escalation of an intersecting reality which threatens to become the true reality , and finally asserts it ...more
Ian Salsbury
An absolutely fabulous book and one I'll definitely be going back to re-read at some point.

It's something of a mind bending plot and one I haven't entirely gotten my head around after one read through. The main character writes an autobiography to try and help him put his mind in order but sets it in a parallel world where names and places are different. In that world he has won a lottery ticket that will grant him immortality and is also writing an autobiography set in our world. The lines betw
Alex S
If you've ever woken from one of those strikingly vivid dreams and wondered for a moment where you are, then this book is for you. The Affirmation is the first book I've read by Christopher Priest, and it has clearly gone into my increasing list of "the best books I've ever read", and not unlike the more recent work of Haruki Murakami in its excellent character-based story-telling and dreamlike sequences. As the main protagonist's fictional world of escape becomes entwined with reality, I just c ...more
“As long as I could remember myself, then I existed. When I woke up in the mornings the first thing I’d do is think back to what I’d done just before going to bed. If the continuity was still there, I still existed. And I think it works the other way … there’s a space ahead that I can anticipate. It’s like a balance. I discovered that memory was like a psychic force behind me, and therefore there must be a kind of life force spreading out in front. The human mind, consciousness, exists at the c
I loved The Islanders and its mysterious alternate world, even if I didn't entirely get what the book was about. I'd read that the Dream Archipelago had its origins in Priest's earlier, 1981 novel, The Affirmation, so this seemed like a fitting next step into his catalog.

The novel is about a young man named Peter Sinclair, whose life has fallen apart after the death of his father, a romantic dissolution, and the loss of his job to a bad economy (there's a palpable sense of Thatcher-era British m
Alejandro Gamen
This is a fantastic book that should be more widely read. It has the best qualities of the best magical realists (Garcia Marquez, Murakami) while being thoroughly mysterious and entrancing.

The story is very meta and the timeline jumps around a bit, like in "Fugue for a Darkening Island" (so far, the only 2 Priest books I've read, to my shame). It involves a man writing a book trying to make sense of his life, but ending up writing a different story that may or may not be allegorical but which de
Molly Ison
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Adam Siegel
Minor spoilers below:

I loved not knowing which world was the 'real' one, at least until fairly deep into the novel. Even so, the fact that the protagonist exists in both modern-day Britain and the Dream Archipelago doesn't necessarily make our world the 'true' one. While I was reading, I was confident that this was a story about a crazy man and his delusions, but after some reflection, I'm biased towards the real world because I happen to live in it! This is a pure story - none of it actually ha
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Valancourt Books: The Affirmation (1981) by Christopher Priest 5 6 Dec 23, 2014 10:51AM  
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Christopher Priest was born in Cheshire, England. He began writing soon after leaving school and has been a full-time freelance writer since 1968.

He has published eleven novels, four short story collections and a number of other books, including critical works, biographies, novelizations and children’s non-fiction.

He has written drama for radio (BBC Radio 4) and television (Thames TV and HTV). In
More about Christopher Priest...
The Prestige The Inverted World The Islanders The Glamour The Separation

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