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The City & The City by China Miéville

The City & The City (2009)

by China Miéville

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
4,4592871,577 (3.97)1 / 593
  1. 160
    The Yiddish Policemen's Union by Michael Chabon (grizzly.anderson, kaipakartik)
    grizzly.anderson: Both are police procedural mysteries set in slightly alternate worlds.
    kaipakartik: Both are detective tales in alternate settings
  2. 121
    Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino (snarkhunt)
    snarkhunt: Calvino's book is a travelogue of impossible societies while China's book is a sweet little noir stuck in the middle of one.
  3. 112
    Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman (ahstrick)
  4. 81
    Anathem by Neal Stephenson (chmod007)
    chmod007: Both novels depict coexisting-but-dissociated societies — drastically foreign to the world we live in — but help us reflect on it.
  5. 70
    Finch by Jeff VanderMeer (ShelfMonkey)
  6. 60
    Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius by Jorge Luis Borges (bertilak)
  7. 60
    Un Lun Dun by China Miéville (heidialice)
    heidialice: May be an obvious recommendation, but these books cover a similar (very original) premise in very different ways. Un Lun Dun is for young teens, smaller in scope and message-heavy; The City & The City for adults, deals with complex themes and offers no easy answers. Both display Mieville's consummate skills and elegant humor.… (more)
  8. 61
    Orsinian Tales by Ursula K. Le Guin (ed.pendragon)
    ed.pendragon: Le Guin's Orsinia may have been an inspiration for Mieville's mythical Orciny in The City and the City.
  9. 40
    Hav by Jan Morris (ed.pendragon)
    ed.pendragon: Miéville's The City and the City acknowledges Jan Morris as an influence on his fractured cities novel, and Morris' travel book novel Hav (fictional trips to a fictional state) is the most likely reference.
  10. 30
    Shadow & Claw: The First Half of The Book of the New Sun by Gene Wolfe (LamontCranston)
    LamontCranston: In many of Wolfes works he writes like Mieville has in the first person of imagined lands, unlike Mieville his characters do not improbably stop to explain to themselves (and thus to the audience) what a term or reference means - the narrative provides enough information for the audience to figure it out themselves.… (more)
  11. 41
    Embassytown by China Miéville (Anonymous user)
  12. 31
    Night Watch by Sergei Lukyanenko (julienne_preacher)
    julienne_preacher: Both books are about divided realities (and both books are awesome).
  13. 20
    The Manual of Detection by Jedediah Berry (ShelfMonkey)
  14. 20
    The Kindly Ones by Melissa Scott (sandstone78)
    sandstone78: Similar themes of parallel societies.
  15. 20
    Zoo City by Lauren Beukes (Jannes)
    Jannes: Two noir-ish thrillers with (vaguely) supernatural themes. Centered around sort-of-contemporary, yet fantastical urban landscapes. Both are very unique, and feels alike even if there's not many superficial similarities. More to the point, they're both damn good reading.… (more)
  16. 20
    The New York Trilogy by Paul Auster (Longshanks)
    Longshanks: Two books that expand the scope of detective fiction beyond the genre's traditional concerns and constraints, one existentially and one sociopolitically.
  17. 20
    The Other City by Michal Ajvaz (bunnygirl)
    bunnygirl: Czech novel about an alternate Prague; not mentioned as one of the influences for this novel, but perhaps going on a bit of the same (disputed?) territory
  18. 20
    A Maze of Death by Philip K. Dick (AlanPoulter)
    AlanPoulter: Two tales of paranoia and murder set in very odd worlds that just get stranger....
  19. 20
    Ways of Worldmaking by Nelson Goodman (sek_smith, sek_smith)
    sek_smith: Ways of World Making explains the cognitive processes that allow us to unsee and,thus, understand. The City & the City is a practical application of the concept, most rigorous and well weaved. Very entertaining fiction with plenty of meaning
    sek_smith: This is not a fiction book, but an essay on relativity applied to epistemology. For many interested in the psychological mechanisms at work in The city & the City, this is a good read.
  20. 20
    The Power by Naomi Alderman (charl08)
    charl08: Both books ask questions about what we take for granted in our everyday realtors..

(see all 31 recommendations)


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English (279)  French (5)  Polish (1)  Spanish (1)  Romanian (1)  All languages (287)
Showing 1-5 of 279 (next | show all)
Mieville's 'The Last Days of New Paris' was my favorite book the year I read it, so I expect great things from him. Mysteries other than Sherlock don't seem to be my thing, so this book probably wasn't bound to be my favorite. I think Mieville couldn't have improved this book any more though. It's from the perspective of a detective living in Beszel, trying to ignore an overlapping city, Ul Qoma, while also worrying about Breach making an appearance if he makes any mistakes. A procedural hinging on a very unique concept: two cities overlapping that are supposed to ignore each other when in the other city, for fear of the mysterious Breach serving justice. And is all this possibly to hide the even more mysterious ancient Orciny? I do like that he tried to fill the book with the mundane investigation to distract from the crazy concept but sometimes was a little too explainy for me. Unfortunately, the book wasn't grabbing my attention like I'd wish. To be fair, many books these days aren't getting the attention from me that they deserve. This one reminded me of Roadside Picnic which I hear Mieville mentions in Railsea, so that influence might not be just a guess from me. It's a little like 1984's Winston being a detective in a crazy city (and the city) that could have been in Calvino's 'Invisible Cities'. ( )
  booklove2 | Dec 26, 2018 |
I kept thinking the whole time I was reading that it was either fantastically clever or way too clever by half and I think I finally ended up with the second one. The main premise; two cities that coexist in the same physical space, takes a while to develop and I did appreciate that he let the storyline tell that, rather than 10 pages of weird exposition, but after a while it was just something weird that didn't make sense and made the whole story convoluted, as if it wasn't convoluted enough to start with.
1 vote amyem58 | Dec 18, 2018 |
I share some feelings with other reviewers: the characters (even -- or especially -- the narrator) are quick sketches and the story is really an old-fashioned police procedural.

But the setting ...! The setting, or more specifically how Mieville introduces, unfolds and presents it is a 100% breathtaking tour-de-force, and I am humbled by it. At first, I wasn't quite sure how the division between the cities 'worked', but I think that's intentional. Once I had fully embraced it I was stunned by its audacity, and its political aspects.

In the end I felt as I have with many of the novels of Richard Powers: huge intellectual thrill, but ultimately a rather cold affect. If I had felt deeply for the characters it might have been unbearable (as Perdido Street Station was at a few points). Do read this. ( )
  tungsten_peerts | Dec 14, 2018 |
Hidden like a book in a library - worth reading just because of that scene , the setting of that idea into a story of investigation, a story of betweenness. ( )
  nkmunn | Nov 17, 2018 |
This book is phenomenal. It's basically perfect.

Miéville constructs the world of the two cities around one operative metaphor, one fantastic element -- one that is utterly unbelievable, yet so deeply-ingrained in the fabric of the two cities that you begin to take it for granted yourself. He illustrates how the divide between the two cities plays itself out, in small ways and large, skillfully exploring the consequences and building up the reader's understanding, bit by bit. By the time Miéville's finished with you, you've internalized the taboo, almost as if you've in fact become an inhabitant of Besźel or Ul Qoma.

This is vital because the ending, the way it all plays out, only makes sense from within the metaphor, even as it illustrates the tenuousness of it all.

This is one of those books that will make you see the world differently, in a way that cannot be unseen. ( )
  wirehead | Sep 3, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 279 (next | show all)
Subtly, almost casually, Miéville constructs a metaphor for modern life in which our habits of "unseeing" allow us to ignore that which does not directly affect our familiar lives. Yet he doesn't encourage us to understand his novel as a parable, rather as a police mystery dealing with extraordinary circumstances. The book is a fine, page-turning murder investigation in the tradition of Philip K Dick, gradually opening up to become something bigger and more significant than we originally suspected.
added by andyl | editThe Guardian, Michael Moorcock (May 30, 2009)
Readers should shed their preconceptions and treat themselves to a highly original and gripping experience.The City & The City is still Urban Fantasy, yes, but don't look for elves on motorcycles or spell-casting cops. China Miéville has done something very different, new, and — oh yeah — weird.
added by PhoenixTerran | editio9, Chris Hsiang (May 28, 2009)
The novel works best when Miéville trusts his storytelling instincts. I was immediately entranced by the premise of doppel cities and didn't need it explained at every turn.

At times, I appreciated the intellectual brilliance of "The City" more than I lost myself in it. Borlú seemed an archetype more than a fleshed-out character. That's OK. The real protagonists here are the mirror cities themselves, and the strange inner workings that make them, and their residents, tick.
Miéville’s achievement is at once remarkable and subtle. His overlapping cities take in an aspect of our own world—social conventions—wholesale. But by describing those conventions using conceptual tools borrowed from traditional “worldbuilding” fantasy, he heightens awareness of the unnoticed in our own lives. He doesn’t give us symbols. He gives us real life rendered with all the more clarity for its apparent weirdness.

» Add other authors (9 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Miéville, Chinaprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bauche-Eppers, EvaÜbersetzersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Drechsler, ArndtCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lee, JohnNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mège, NathalieTraductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mäkelä, J. PekkaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nati, MaurizioTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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"Deep inside the town there open up, so to speak, double streets, doppelganger streets, mendacious and delusive streets."
   -- Bruno Schulz, The Cinnamon Shops and Other Stories
In loving memory of my mother,
Claudia Lightfoot
First words
I could not see the street or much of the estate.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Information from the German Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
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Book description
Haiku summary
Can cities really
co-exist in the same place?
Beware the frontier!

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0345497511, Hardcover)

Amazon Best of the Month, June 2009: The city is Beszel, a rundown metropolis on the eastern edge of Europe. The other city is Ul Qoma, a modern Eastern European boomtown, despite being a bit of an international pariah. What the two cities share, and what they don't, is the deliciously evocative conundrum at the heart of China Mieville's The City & The City. Mieville is well known as a modern fantasist (and urbanist), but from book to book he's tried on different genres, and here he's fully hard-boiled, stripping down to a seen-it-all detective's voice that's wonderfully appropriate for this story of seen and unseen. His detective is Inspector Tyador Borlu, a cop in Beszel whose investigation of the murder of a young foreign woman takes him back and forth across the highly policed border to Ul Qoma to uncover a crime that threatens the delicate balance between the cities and, perhaps more so, Borlu's own dissolving sense of identity. In his tale of two cities, Mieville creates a world both fantastic and unsettlingly familiar, whose mysteries don't end with the solution of a murder. --Tom Nissley

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:25:38 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

Inspector Tyador Borlu must travel to Ul Qoma to search for answers in the murder of a woman found in the city of Beszel.

» see all 9 descriptions

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