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This Census-Taker by China Mieville

This Census-Taker (edition 2016)

by China Mieville (Author), Vincent Chong (Illustrator)

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5623726,613 (3.4)51
Title:This Census-Taker
Authors:China Mieville (Author)
Other authors:Vincent Chong (Illustrator)
Info:Subterranean (2016), Edition: Deluxe Hardcover, 184 pages
Collections:To read, Your library
Tags:fiction, signed, numbered

Work details

This Census-Taker by China Miéville

  1. 10
    The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman (Euryale)
    Euryale: Another short novel with a similar atmosphere (although a very different structure and voice)

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» See also 51 mentions

English (36)  French (1)  All languages (37)
Showing 1-5 of 36 (next | show all)
A man writes about his life from prison. As a boy he lived with his parents - his mother a trader, his father selling magical keys. But then his mother killed his father. Or actually, his father killed his mother. The boy is convinced of it, but nobody finds any evidence of it. Then the Cenus-Taker shows up to talk with his father.

This Census-Taker takes a three-book idea and stuffs it into a novella, which is at times frustrating because I just wanted to know more, but mostly it's just brilliant.

Read more on my blog: https://kalafudra.com/2018/08/09/this-census-taker-china-mieville/ ( )
  kalafudra | May 18, 2019 |
He looked like a failed soldier. Dirt seemed so worked into him that the lines of his face were like writing.

Oh China, you coy wretch. Promise and no delivery, or at least an awkward variety. The Census-Taker is an austerity tale, one set after the robots revolt. All Skycorp and shit, except matters have settled Bronze Age. The opening sections reminded me of The Wasp Factory, but despite shimmering examples of trades being depicted, the tale only introduced its titular character essentially as an epilogue. From my hip one could read this as Double Indemnity of the next Dark Age. ( )
  jonfaith | Feb 22, 2019 |
signed, limited
  bookstopshere | Feb 21, 2019 |
This novel was running along at 3.5 rating for the first 70%. Then the census taker appears. And the story begins to take focus. Maybe even a deus ex machine. The census taker is like a family historian who needs get tied up. Genealogists do this al the time. The keep verifiable records. They have to deal with not entirely verifiable data. The combination gun the census taker has a broadguage bore for possibilities (i.e. standard variation), and the single bore shot which focuses on the target (i.e. the mean).

As I was reading the book yesterday, I received a phone call from the U.S. Census Bureau who wanted to reactivate my application to be a "field representative" (i.e. a census taker). So this novel rose to poignancy for me. The census taker gathers information to get a focus on the population, and this pertains to the father's family. And resolves to the narrator becoming the census taker's assistant.

There is an interesting discussion of the book or record the boy keep; 1) coded numbers and signs, 2) words written to be seen, 3) private thoughts. So how do we construct our memories. ( )
1 vote vpfluke | Jan 31, 2019 |
There are really no words for this book, so it's hard to describe why I liked it and simultaneously was irked by it at the same time. I love it's unexpected Kafka-esque style - for a 200 page novel, I can handle that and even found it intriguing. But...what?? What was happening here? I understand the boy, and his mother, and his homeless bridge friends. But I have no idea what to make of the father and his key-making, or the census-taker and his agenda. I wanted just a kernel of a detail that would help me put this story into context, especially with no time/place/clues to what I was jumping into. Regardless, I was intrigued and really enjoyed reading it. ( )
  Katie_Roscher | Jan 18, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 36 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (1 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Miéville, Chinaprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Chong, VincentIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stein, ChrisAuthor photographsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Torberg, PeterTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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"Like all these long low squat houses, it had been built not for but against. They were built against the forest, against the sea, against the elements, against the world. They had roof-beams and doors and hatred—as though in this part of the world an architect always included hatred among his tools, and said to his apprentice: 'Mind you've brought along enough hatred today.'"
—Jane Gaskell, Some Summer Lands
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A boy ran down a hill path screaming.
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"In a remote house on a hilltop, a lonely boy witnesses a profoundly traumatic event. He tries--and fails--to flee. Left alone with his increasingly deranged parent, he dreams of safety, of joining the other children in the town below, of escape. When at last a stranger knocks at his door, the boy senses that his days of isolation might be over. But by what authority does this man keep the meticulous records he carries? What is the purpose behind his questions? Is he friend? Enemy? Or something else altogether?"--… (more)

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