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The City & The City (Random House Reader's Circle) Paperback – April 27, 2010


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Product Details

  • Series: Random House Reader's Circle
  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Del Rey; Reprint edition (April 27, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 034549752X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345497529
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.5 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (274 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #29,258 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Amazon Best of the Month, June 2009: The city is Beszel, a rundown metropolis on the eastern edge of Europe. The other city is Ul Qoma, a modern Eastern European boomtown, despite being a bit of an international pariah. What the two cities share, and what they don't, is the deliciously evocative conundrum at the heart of China Mieville's The City & The City. Mieville is well known as a modern fantasist (and urbanist), but from book to book he's tried on different genres, and here he's fully hard-boiled, stripping down to a seen-it-all detective's voice that's wonderfully appropriate for this story of seen and unseen. His detective is Inspector Tyador Borlu, a cop in Beszel whose investigation of the murder of a young foreign woman takes him back and forth across the highly policed border to Ul Qoma to uncover a crime that threatens the delicate balance between the cities and, perhaps more so, Borlu's own dissolving sense of identity. In his tale of two cities, Mieville creates a world both fantastic and unsettlingly familiar, whose mysteries don't end with the solution of a murder. --Tom Nissley --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Better known for New Weird fantasies (Perdido Street Station, etc.), bestseller Miéville offers an outstanding take on police procedurals with this barely speculative novel. Twin southern European cities Beszel and Ul Qoma coexist in the same physical location, separated by their citizens' determination to see only one city at a time. Inspector Tyador Borlú of the Extreme Crime Squad roams through the intertwined but separate cultures as he investigates the murder of Mahalia Geary, who believed that a third city, Orciny, hides in the blind spots between Beszel and Ul Qoma. As Mahalia's friends disappear and revolution brews, Tyador is forced to consider the idea that someone in unseen Orciny is manipulating the other cities. Through this exaggerated metaphor of segregation, Miéville skillfully examines the illusions people embrace to preserve their preferred social realities. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

China Miéville is the author of King Rat; Perdido Street Station, winner of the Arthur C. Clarke Award and the British Fantasy Award; The Scar, winner of the Locus Award and the British Fantasy Award; Iron Council, winner of the Locus Award and the Arthur C. Clarke Award; Looking for Jake, a collection of short stories; and Un Lun Dun, his New York Times bestselling book for younger readers. He lives and works in London.

Customer Reviews

The setting of the novel is what makes the story work.
J. W. Kennedy
That said, there is so much effort put toward that end that the rest of the book, like plot and character development, seems boring and weak by comparison.
Sven Hrolfson
In the book, Mieville portrays two cities that share the same physical space.
Michael Lima

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

227 of 241 people found the following review helpful By J. W. Kennedy VINE VOICE on April 27, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I have awarded five stars to lesser books in the past, but now the bar has been raised; I know what a five-star novel is really like after reading _The City & The City_.

It's a detective novel written in the first-person; the narrator is Inspector Tyador Borlu of the Beszel Extreme Crime Squad. The writing style is relatively spare, reminescent of Dashiell Hammett. The narrator constrains himself strictly to observable phenomena and tells us nothing of characters' inner thoughts or emotional states, which makes the action seem very immediate and the narration very stark. Police procedures are presented believably but without too much detail. The case itself is not terribly elaborate. It starts with a murder, but about two-thirds of the way through I felt that the murder was no longer the focus. Inspector Borlu's investigation leads to fringe political groups, an archaeological site, a foreign country, and to somewhere else entirely. The setting of the novel is what makes the story work. There wouldn't be a story if it wasn't set in Beszel and Ul Qoma. It's a totally original concept, like nothing I have ever read before.

Beszel is a gloomy, decaying city which seems to be located somewhere in Eastern Europe. Ul Qoma is a bright, bustling city that seems either Arabic or Turkish. The relationship between the two cities is the central theme of the book. I can't tell you much about it without spoiling the beautiful unfolding of the novel. Of course Inspector Borlu takes everything for granted because he lives there; it's all familiar to him .. so instead of explaining things as one would to a foreign visitor, he lets details emerge through descriptions of sights and events, and the reader slowly pieces together details of the setting.
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126 of 143 people found the following review helpful By J. Roberts VINE VOICE on May 29, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Much ado has been made of the change in tone and character in this most recent book, and it's true that the language is a dramatic departure from his typical baroque style, but it still bears something in common with pretty much everything Mieville writes: it requires quite a lot from the reader.

There are books that you can read at a surface level, just taking in the words one at a time as they lay out character, setting and plot much like a computer loading an image. Mieville's books - and to a lesser extent his stories - tend to be more like jigsaw puzzles without the box. In his more fantastic work, it's less jarring than here because even at his most outre, he tends to tread familiar paths as far as story and plot, so you can keep up.

This, on the other hand, is a bit of noir fiction/magical realism, and it's a bit jarring to read about a hundred pages of the book before you're really given a handle as to exactly what's going on.

That aside, the overall plot of the book - not to mention the characters and, of course, the cities themselves - makes for a good read, but be prepared to devote a considerable amount of your brain's memory cache to this book until you're finished.
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By J. Zeh on April 20, 2010
Format: Paperback
I read this book last year in hardback, and have recently read it a second time. It really was my beach read last year, the first book I read laying by on the beach on vacation. It was different, and more of a mystery story than I expected. The premise is unique - two cities existing in the same physical space that overlaps somehow. And that exist in our modern world. You are left wondering about how the separation happened, how it is maintained, and what is the complete story behind it. THAT is what demands a sequel, that I hope China will write one day. I am giving the story four stars instead of five because I really wanted more back story of the city, and the story could have been longer. However, it was the perfect size for a beach read, it does wrap up the mystery, and there are lots of directions the author can take if he wants to do another book with the same detective character.

Reading this book, you are plunged into this very strange concept of the two cites occuping same space right away. As the story develops, you learn how people living there deal with their unusual reality. The reader follows the main character, a police detective, as he investigates a murder. As he finds out more about the murder, the clues may lead to a bigger mystery and conspiracy. Finding out all the pieces of the puzzle as the detective does is part of the fun.

I adore China Mieville, his prose, his writing style and his unique concepts. I love most everything he has written. His books set in Bas-Lag are very intricate and complex and long. This book is NOT set in Bas-Lag, it is shorter than those novels, and a satisfying read by itself. Highly recommended.

One more recommendation: If you ever have the chance to hear the author in person, go see him. He is very gracious in person. He has a wonderful voice and I enjoyed hearing him read from one of his works when I had the chance to see him at a signing event.
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54 of 64 people found the following review helpful By Brian A. Schar VINE VOICE on May 11, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I enjoyed this book, and found it a worthwhile read, but did not love it as unequivocally as the reviewers below.

On the plus side, Mieville's style is distinctive, literary and interesting. "The City and the City" isn't something you've read a dozen times before; it's original, and for that reason alone it's worth reading. The SF and mystery genres seem to breed dozens of cut-rate "me too" novels for every truly interesting work, so just reading something new and different is worth a couple of stars alone. The characters are well-drawn and interesting, as are the cities of Beszel and Ul Qoma.

On the minus side, every page of this book talks about the intersection between the cities in some way - the alter, the crosshatching and so on. After a while, we get it; the point doesn't have to be belabored. Speaking of the point, we also get the point about subcultures and minorities and what we see in daily life versus what we don't, which is all well and good. But either I missed the point of the novel as a whole or just didn't get it, because at the end my first reaction was, "so what?" I understand that Tyodor has changed as a result of his experience, but I would expect that from a character written by a good writer; again, my though was "so what?" The ending left me cold, as if the book just stopped. I got the impression that the identity of the killer just wasn't that important; that it just got picked out of a hat, and tossed in right at the end to satisfy those who would be disappointed if a murder mystery never identified the killer.

Having said that, "The City and the City" is at least worth borrowing from the library. The pros outweigh the cons, and if you don't love it, you will likely at least enjoy it.
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