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The City & the City Hardcover – 26 May 2009

3.9 out of 5 stars 187 customer reviews

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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 (187 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 4,258,765 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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

"Daring and disturbing . . . Mieville 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, Mieville 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. Mieville 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, Mieville 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."

Daring and disturbing . . . Mieville 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, Mieville 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. Mieville 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, Mieville 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."" --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I was attracted to this book by hearing China Mieville discussing it on Radio 4. I therefore knew what to expect in terms of the two communities co-existing in the same space, so I do not know whether the introduction of that central idea would have been more confusing if I had not had that preparation. I also liked the idea of dealing with the very serious philosophical and moral paradoxes raised through a detective story. I did enjoy the book but was left feeling that both the crime story and the philosophocal discussion had been slightly short-changed in the process. There were times when the tension of the mystery was dissipated rather than supported by the central idea and equally, that opportunities to explore our own capacity for 'double-think' were missed. In a world where our leaders and almost every aspect of daily life are involved in willingly 'unseeing' moral paradoxes, if not outright attrocities, this book had a potentially explosive comment to make that it did not really attempt. Having said that, it did tell an interesting story, raised fascinating moral and philosophical issues and introduced the reader to a version of reality that challenges how we see our own worlds. Read it, and see where it takes you.
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