As his new book, The Grad­ual, is pub­lished, Christo­pher priest looks back at his ca­reer via five key nov­els. Jonathan Wright lis­tens in

SFX - - Contents - Por­trait by Rob Monk

the writer looks back over his long and var­ied ca­reer.

Ac­cord­ing to Christo­pher Priest, the spec­u­la­tive novel, which he’s worked at for close to half a cen­tury now, con­tin­ues to “in­trigue and chal­lenge” him. “It’s what I do,” he says. “But what I do is still largely mis­un­der­stood and dis­trusted by the lit­er­ary es­tab­lish­ment. I think they are mas­sively miss­ing the point.” Not that, to look at Priest’s body of work, you’d im­me­di­ately dis­cern there was some kind of point. Which isn’t a crit­i­cism. While themes and au­thorly tics – un­re­li­able nar­ra­tors, re­al­i­ties that are un­map­pable yet not wholly un­know­able, stage magic and sleight of hand, sub­vert­ing genre tropes – re­cur, Priest never pre­cisely goes over the same ground twice.

Now in his sev­en­ties, his work is as vi­tal, chal­leng­ing and con­tem­po­rary as ever. “Day-to-day life is out­wardly un­event­ful,” he says. “It in­volves do­mes­tic rou­tines, two cats, walk­ing in the woods, and sit­ting for hours in a study full of books. In­wardly? That’s a bit dif­fer­ent…”

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