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The City & the City Hardcover – 26 May 2009

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Hardcover, 26 May 2009
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 312 pages
  • Publisher: Del Rey Books (26 May 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345497511
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345497512
  • Product Dimensions: 16.1 x 3 x 24.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (158 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,007,349 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.

Review

'A gripping philosophical thriller about how human fears and prejudice can reshape reality.'
--The Times

'In this mind-boggling novel, which includes elements of detective fiction, sci-fi and political thriller, Miéville uses all the imaginative skills that have helped him succeed with titles such as Perdido Street Station.' --Bookseller's Choice, The Bookseller

'A fantasy thriller in which a murder case spins its inspector on an existential journey from the curious tumbledown city of Beszel and into its parallel metropolis.'
--The Times

'China Miéville is partial to a fabricated city setting, and he has outdone himself here by constructing two adjoining Eastern European city-states, Beszel and Ul Qoma, and their complex and political and linguistic systems. Against this impressively realized backdrop is set a nourish thriller.' --Observer

'An original fantasy thriller.'
--Express

`Wrapping your brain around the strangeness is part of the pleasure. It pushes up against the boundaries of possibilities to provoke a reassessment of our own reality.'
--Guardian Review --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

33 of 33 people found the following review helpful By TomCat on 1 Aug. 2011
Format: Paperback
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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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By John W on 27 Mar. 2012
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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59 of 63 people found the following review helpful By Bâki on 7 Mar. 2010
Format: Paperback
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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By fgunn on 30 Oct. 2012
Format: Paperback
The City and The City is a meaningful and important exploration of cultural and social difference and how we learn to exclude others.The premise of the book - 2 cultures inhabiting the same physical space and having to learn not to see each other and not to recognise one another's existence could be applied to Jerusalem, Belfast and many other cities where conflict and division have become the norm. Frighteningly it could also be applied to most cities we live in - for those of us who are not drug users or involved in gangs, the violence that damages and often kills is almost invisible. We don't move in the same circles as the drug dealers or the psychopaths.....until we bump up against the artificial borders and experience at first hand how the other half lives.I think that China Mieville is a gifted social analyst and says important things about our society - more people need to read him! This book inspired me to curate an eponymous exhibition featuring the work of international artists who are women and to investigate their response to 'The City' as a contested space.
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