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
'A murder mystery set in a surreal, Blade Runner-esque urban landscape.'
'An extremely ambitious work with a grand finale which won't disappoint fans of either genre.'
'Beautifully, seamlessly, effortlessly created.'
-- American crime writer Laurie R King
'Miéville again proves himself as intelligent as he is original.'
'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