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The City & The City [Paperback]

China Mieville
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (131 customer reviews)
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Book Description

6 May 2011

When the body of a murdered woman is found in the extraordinary, decaying city of Beszel, somewhere at the edge of Europe, it looks like a routine case for Inspector Tyador Borlú of the Extreme Crime Squad. But as he probes, the evidence begins to point to conspiracies far stranger, and more deadly, than anything he could have imagined. Soon his work puts him and those he cares for in danger. Borlú must travel to the only metropolis on Earth as strange as his own, across a border like no other.

With shades of Kafka and Philip K. Dick, Raymond Chandler and 1984, The City & The City is a murder mystery taken to dazzling metaphysical and artistic heights.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Pan (6 May 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 033053419X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0330534192
  • Product Dimensions: 0.1 x 0.1 x 0.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (131 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 42,604 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

China Miéville lives and works in London. He is three-time winner of the prestigious Arthur C. Clarke Award (Perdido Street Station, Iron Council and The City & The City) and has also won the British Fantasy Award twice (Perdido Street Station and The Scar). The City & The City, an existential thriller, was published in 2009 to dazzling critical acclaim and drew comparison with the works of Kafka and Orwell (The Times) and Philip K. Dick (Guardian).

Product Description

Amazon Review

Certain writers absolutely defy categorisation – and China Miéville is most definitely of that rarefied company. His prose is exhilarating, poetic, coruscating with ideas and atmosphere – and it has enhanced a body of work that has almost no parallels in modern writing. Heretofore, if Miéville has brushed shoulders with any identifiable genres, they are those of fantasy and science fiction – which makes his remarkable new book, The City and The City, such a surprise. The author’s publishers compare this novel to Philip K Dick, Raymond Chandler and 1984 – which at least gives a series of corollaries for this book, however tentative. There are elements here of the crime thriller, but very much refracted through Miéville’s highly individual imagination.

The body of a murdered woman is discovered in the remarkable, crumbling European city of Besźel. Such a crime is par for the course for Inspector Tyador Borlú, who is the premier talent of the Extreme Crime Squad – until his investigations uncover evidence that bizarre and terrifying forces are at work – and soon both he and those around him will be in considerable peril. He must undertake an odyssey, a journey across borders both physical and psychical, to the city which is both a complement and rival to his own, that of Ul Qoma.

Like all of China Miéville’s work, The City and The City will not be to everyone’s taste – the very individuality of the prose and the surrealistic inventiveness will not attract those preferring more prosaic fare. But for readers who hanker after untrammelled imagination – and look for literary fare unlike anything they have read before (even, it has to be said, by Miéville himself), then this is a journey to be undertaken. But with caution, perhaps… --Barry Forshaw --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


'A murder mystery set in a surreal, Blade Runner-esque urban landscape.'
-- Shortlist

'An extremely ambitious work with a grand finale which won't disappoint fans of either genre.'
-- Timeout

'Beautifully, seamlessly, effortlessly created.'
-- American crime writer Laurie R King

'Miéville again proves himself as intelligent as he is original.'
-- Guardian

'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...a gripping and thought-provoking read.'
-- The Times

'This is Miéville's most accomplished novel since Perdido Street Station. It is fantastic in the careless, colloquial sense.' -- Spectator

'This is a fable, just like Clockwork Orange was a fable... The fable is just extraordinary and within this is a very good murder mystery.'
-- Front Row, BBC Radio 4

`Both utterly fascinating and his most brain-scrambling work yet.' -- SFX

`His most disciplined and sharply focused novel to date.' -- Locus

`It is simply unlike anything you...have read...The sheer scale of its ingenuity is just phenomenal.' -- The Truth About Books --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The City and The City 1 Aug 2011
By TomCat
Neither pure science fiction nor entirely naturalistic, China Miéville's The City and The City functions in a strange hinterland between genre spaces. Significantly influenced by hardboiled noir detective fiction (notably Dashiell Hammet, Raymond Chandler, James Ellroy) and taking cues from Kafka, the novel is strikingly difficult to pin-down; and although many reviewers have tried resorting to long compound chains of genre labels (`post-modern-sci-fi-detective-noir' etc.), this is probably more confusing than helpful. So I think it's best if we stick with Miéville's own self-disclosed moniker `Weird Fiction' [his capitals], which though concise and a tad self-satisfied, is nonetheless a pleasingly eloquent descriptive of what is a damn unusual book.

As the name suggests, The City and The City is a novel rampant with doubling: it's set in two fictional cities in Eastern Europe: Bes'el and Ul Qoma, which although being different administrative, legal and cultural entities, nonetheless share the same physical space, topographically speaking; so one street may be in Bes'el, whereas the street immediately adjacent might belong to Ul Qoma. The citizens of each city must ignore the existence of the other entirely (`unsee' it - strikingly Orwellian neologism?); if they don't, then they are said to have committed a crime called `Breach', and weird things happen to them. Principally the novel concerns a by-the-numbers `extreme crime' detective called Borlú, who's tasked with investigating the murder of a Bes'el woman by a citizen from Ul Qoma; all the while Borlú becomes more and more obsessed with pseudo-academic theories that a third city called `Orciny' exists - functioning entirely unseen between the other two.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding 27 Mar 2012
By John W
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Some reviews have portrayed this as a murder mystery set against the backdrop of two very unusually interlaced cities. I'd turn this around and say it's a mystery about the nature of the cities, set against the backdrop of a murder investigation.

I was initially frustrated that I couldn't quite grasp what was going on with the cities, then after a while I thought I understood, and then later came to have that understanding subverted. In the end I was just gobsmacked by the audacity of the whole thing. This reminded me a little of The Bridge by Iain Banks, in terms of there being a mystery in the book which is not explicitly pointed out.

This is a very good book, I really enjoyed it.
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57 of 61 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dystopian Police Procedural 7 Mar 2010
By Bâki
The City & The City is the latest by an author who has garnered quite a reputation these past years for being original, insightful and basically pretty damn good. The City & The City comes loaded with plaudits, A Nebula Award nomination, and enough cover quotes to ensure even the most insecure author feels the love. Miéville is even compared to George Orwell and Franz Kafka...

Now here's a thing, with all this adulation from the critics you might think I'd be extremely keen to read this book, right? Well the truth is I've wanted to read something of China's work for a while, but I was by no means certain I'd like it. I couldn't help but wonder if it might all be drearily pretentious. You know the kind of book? Difficult to read, self-indulgent drivel, that our cultural tastemakers often effuse over. The ones that leave us mere mortals - who're only looking for a good read - feeling inadequate on account of our inability to invoke the same level of excitement for them. The quote from Socialist Review on the cover also made me groan a bit. Knowing China's politics - was this going to be a disguised party manifesto?

So a little apprehensive and ready to stand against the wave of support for this book if need be, I plunged in, and bugger me - It IS really good! My initial reservations turned out to be completely unfounded. I didn't even mind that it's told in the first person, which as a point of preference is not by favourite narrative perspective.

Inspector Tyador Borlú is the person telling this tale, an investigator in a specialist division of the Bes'el City Police. Borlú is assigned to investigate the murder of a foreign woman, whose body is discovered abandoned by his officers.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Amazing imagination, disappointing delivery 16 Oct 2010
Two cities, Beszel, a decaying soviet style society and Ul Qoma, near Eastern in style. The body of a murdered young girl found in the vandalised playground of a sink estate by Inspector Tyador Borlu of the Extreme Crime Squad [for some reason, annoyingly, Amazon doesn't seem to support accents, but there are acute accents over the first e in Mieville, the second in Beszel and the u in Borlu, which give an indication of the slavic slant of the language of the latter two]. But all is not as it seems, and Mieville's detective story is, Borlu says of his case on page 9, 'considerably more Byzantine than it had initially appeared'. I won't give anything away, but the reference to Byzantium, also known as Istanbul and Constantinople over its history, as well as the meaning of 'byzantine' itself give clues to just how much of a ride Mieville takes you on. Brilliantly conceived and written
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
A "Police procedural" like you've never come across before - very strange ( as you would expect from C.M.)
Published 5 days ago by P. S. Addison
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing Book! Thoroughly enjoyed it!
Amazing Book! Thoroughly enjoyed it!
Published 14 days ago by A. Tollan
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
yet to read
Published 1 month ago by ruth
5.0 out of 5 stars fantastic
an amazing read.gripping and enticing - strongly recommend. I was unable to put it down, lots of twists and turns through a strange but believable city and city.
Published 2 months ago by bl
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Very clever and really thought-provoking.
Published 2 months ago by Penny Y
4.0 out of 5 stars Great idea
Fascinating, dense, hugely detailed.

Loved the premise.

Would have liked more "origin" but a great read.
Published 2 months ago by Ghoti666
5.0 out of 5 stars Very Imaginative and Compelling
This book is a crime mystery, more speculative fiction than science fiction I would say but still elements of the unusual. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Sarmor
4.0 out of 5 stars Science fiction or a philosophical exploration
Whilst being set in an alternative universe this book raises interesting questions about such issues as what makes one "human", ethical scientific "progress",... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Gripping. The strange geo-politics give a new twist to the murder inquiry genre.
Published 3 months ago by Amazon Customer
2.0 out of 5 stars dull
railsea brilliant as were the scarandperdido this must have been written by someone else orwell it certainly aint winston would be turning in his grave if we could but see him
Published 3 months ago by Fraser Gardner
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