Christopher Priest

The Prestige

Published

UK edition: Gollancz, 2005 [ISBN 0 575 07580 5, 7.99; pp.360]. US edition: Tor, 1997 [ISBN 0 312 85886 - 8, $14.95; pp. 404]. First published in 1995 by Touchstone (Simon & Schuster). Also available in translation.

What they say

"... as an exercise in narrative control, in pretending to propound illusionary matters while never actually, I think, telling an actual untruth, The Prestige is exemplary. It is a lesson to us in the joy of story" -- John Clute, Interzone

"... one senses that the appearance of each new Priest novel represents a publishing occasion, a moment when each of us, if we have the slightest concern about the future of fiction, should put our money where our mouths are. The Prestige is one of those delicious books in which truth -- if there is indeed an absolute truth to the tale -- is revealed only gradually, and partially. I read this novel at a sitting: it's a long novel so it was a long sitting. I cannot loudly enough exhort you to repeat my feat. Here is one of our finest novelists at his peak. Need I say more?" -- John Grant, SFX

Awards

James Tait Black Memorial Prize for Fiction, 1995
World Fantasy Award, 1996

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The Prestige has been filmed, directed by Christopher Nolan. Release dates: USA October 20, 2006; UK November 10, 2006. (Other release dates can be found  here.)  The film stars Hugh Jackman, Christian Bale, Scarlett Johansson, Michael Caine, David Bowie and Andy Serkis. Nolan co-wrote the screenplay with his brother Jonathan Nolan (the Nolans were responsible for Memento in 2000). Click on the link below for information and comment about the film.

As a book, The Prestige is one of Priest's most acclaimed novels, being winner of both the World Fantasy Award and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for Fiction (and shortlisted for three other awards). It has been in print ever since its first release, and has been translated into 18 languages.

A story of secrecy, curiosity and concealment, The Prestige is set in the smoke-and-mirrors world of Victorian music halls. Two stage illusionists engage in a bitter and deadly feud -- the effects are still being felt by their families a hundred years later. Both men are driven to the extremes by the mystery of an amazing stage illusion they both perform. The novel itself is constructed like a stage illusion: because of misdirection, nothing can be taken for granted -- revelations and unexpected twists occur at regular intervals. The secret of the magic is not kept  from the reader, because for the antagonists the real mystery lies deeper. Both men have more to hide than the mere workings of a trick.