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