- Series: Random House Reader's Circle
- Paperback: 336 pages
- Publisher: Del Rey; Reprint edition (April 27, 2010)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 034549752X
- ISBN-13: 978-0345497529
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 390 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #38,037 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The City & The City: A Novel (Random House Reader's Circle) Paperback – April 27, 2010
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“Daring and disturbing . . . Miéville illuminates fundamental and unsettling questions about culture, governance and the shadowy differences that keep us apart.”—Walter Mosley, author of Devil in a Blue Dress
"Lots of books dabble in several genres but few manage to weld them together as seamlessly and as originally as The City and The City. In a tale set in a series of cities vertiginously layered in the same space, Miéville offers the detective novel re-envisioned through the prism of the fantastic. The result is a stunning piece of artistry that has both all the satisfactions of a good mystery and all the delight and wonder of the best fantasy.”—Brian Evenson, author of Last Days
“If Philip K. Dick and Raymond Chandler's love child were raised by Franz Kafka, the writing that emerged might resemble China Mieville's new novel, The City & the City." —Los Angeles Times
“China Mieville has made his name via award-winning, genre-bending titles such as King Rat, Perdido Street Station, The Scar and Iron Council. Now, in The City & the City, he sets out to bend yet another genre, that of the police procedural, and he succeeds brilliantly…. [An] extraordinary, wholly engaging read.” — St. Petersburg Times
“An eye-opening genre-buster. The names of Kafka and Orwell tend to be invoked too easily for anything a bit out of the ordinary, but in this case they are worthy comparisons.” — The Times, London
“Evoking such writers as Franz Kafka and Mikhail Bulgakov, Mr. Miéville asks readers to make conceptual leaps and not to simply take flights of fancy.”—Wall Street Journal
“An outstanding take on police procedurals…. Through this exaggerated metaphor of segregation, Miéville skillfully examines the illusions people embrace to preserve their preferred social realities.” — Publishers Weekly, starred review
“An excellent police procedural and a fascinating urban fantasy, this is essential reading for all mystery and fantasy fans.”—Booklist, starred review
“This spectacularly, intricately paranoid yarn is worth the effort.” — Kirkus, starred review
From the Hardcover edition.
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.
From the Hardcover edition.
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To start, this book is BONKERS. But in the best way possible. Admittedly, I found the beginning to be tough to get through simply because Mieville's writing is something I wasn't used to reading; at times it feels very sporadic and seems to "jump around" a lot without much exposition, but after a while I realized that I actually enjoy it that way, things seem more "fast-paced" which fits well with the story itself. It gets really interesting once he starts to describe "Breach" and the way the characters "unsee" the neighboring city. [MILD SPOILER] these details don't get "explained" until some chapters into the book, but I felt that this helped set the tone earlier on by making the character's actions that more intriguing; I kept reading because I wanted to better understand their strange behaviors and "see" the picture that Mieville was creating.
I love the concept (I haven't seen or read other stories like it), and the characters are believable and entertaining. If anyone has other suggestions for books like this please let me know, but in the meantime I would recommend this to anyone interested in more speculative fiction.
"The City & The City" is, at it's heart, a gumshoe murder mystery that takes place in the most incredible place on earth. The cities of Beszel and Ul Qoma share "grosstopically" a similar space. That is to say, the streets of the two cities run together, but due to quirks of history and international politics, the streets are in two separate and somewhat antagonistic countries.
Mieville's cities remind me of the two Berlins during the cold war but instead of in linguistically homogeneous Germany, they are located in architecturally and linguistically diverse Balkans. The cities residents' most curious practice is that of "unseeing" people and events that transpire in the neighboring country (even if "grosstopically" it may only be a few feet away).
The cities separateness is enforced by a powerful and rather mysterious organization called Breach. In true Cold War fashion, citizens who violate the separateness of the cities by crossing subtle boundaries sometimes simply disappear.
Enter the case of a Jane Doe, murdered in one city and disposed of in the other. The politics and particulars of the place make the detective work Mieville's characters have to perform simply fascinating. The novel explores being in a political versus geographic space.
There was enough mystery and intrigue to keep me turning the pages and continually guessing "who done it"! I'd recommend the novel to any who enjoys a murder-mystery with a new twist.
Our hero, inspector Tyador Borlu, gets drawn into a murder with obvious political overtones. Despite wishing to turn it over to Breach, he must follow the clues with the help of some daring but not entirely willing collaborators, and even finds himself assisting the Ul Qoma police, where he must see what he normally un-sees, and vice-versa. There are hints of dark conspiracy and evidence of secret manipulation, and they do amount to a suspenseful hunt and a resolution full of surprises.
I found myself following a different set of clues as to what Mieville was actually suggesting about the world, but never felt that they added up to a worldview or a tidy commentary on any particular issue. I liked the resolution, and it did feel rather "meta" in that the politics of the division turned out to be . . . oh, all right, I won't spoil it. Suffice it to say some will feel the resolution is a letdown, but if you like Zizek and Eco, its common sense interpretation will feel right.
Nobody is a great hero, nobody is a great villain, people are part of systems and yet have some scope for thinking for themselves. Do you have a problem with that?