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The City & The City by China Miéville
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The City & The City (2009)

by China Miéville

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
4,2732791,158 (3.97)1 / 582
  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. 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)
  6. 60
    Finch by Jeff VanderMeer (ShelfMonkey)
  7. 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.
  8. 50
    Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius by Jorge Luis Borges (bertilak)
  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. 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.
  13. 20
    The Kindly Ones by Melissa Scott (sandstone78)
    sandstone78: Similar themes of parallel societies.
  14. 31
    Night Watch by Sergei Lukyanenko (julienne_preacher)
    julienne_preacher: Both books are about divided realities (and both books are awesome).
  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
    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.
  17. 31
    Wave Without a Shore by C. J. Cherryh (reading_fox)
    reading_fox: Covers the same ground regarding visualising concepts.
  18. 20
    The Manual of Detection by Jedediah Berry (ShelfMonkey)
  19. 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....
  20. 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

(see all 30 recommendations)

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English (271)  French (5)  Polish (1)  Spanish (1)  Romanian (1)  All (279)
Showing 1-5 of 271 (next | show all)
I'm modifying my rating to 4.5 stars: 5 stars for the cities and 4 stars for the story. I can't explain without invoking spoilers, and this book really needs to be experienced independently. ( )
  natcontrary | May 21, 2018 |
Wow. This deserves praise just for being unique. It's one of those books that will live or die for the reader depending on how interesting you find the central conceit of the story: a city where every square inch of real estate is divided up into two separate nations, where a citizen of Bezsel may sit at a cafe on a corner, speaking his home language, eating his national cuisine, and sitting two feet away could be a citizen of Ul Quoma, talking on his cell phone in a different language, browsing the wares of an Ul Quoman merchant, in a different country with different laws and customs. And they can not interact, or even acknowledge each other's existence in any way, lest they bring the wrath of the mysterious enforcers of this system, Breach.

It's hard to explain. But just imagine a foreign country, one that's even somewhat hostile to yours, that shares an intermingled territory with your own. Anyway, it's a brilliant, unique set-up for a very neo-noir police/murder mystery. This reminded me a lot of Michael Chabon's Yiddish Policeman's Union (another high concept detective story), which I loved. It also bears traces of Kafka's paranoid existential dread and the mind-bending concepts of Phillip K. Dick novels. Fans of Mieville's more baroque fantasy novels will like this, although it's a very different style of book. I'd recommend it to anyone who thinks they'd like a dark, moody mystery with a thought-provoking twist to it. ( )
  Chamblyman | May 20, 2018 |
Wow. This deserves praise just for being unique. It's one of those books that will live or die for the reader depending on how interesting you find the central conceit of the story: a city where every square inch of real estate is divided up into two separate nations, where a citizen of Bezsel may sit at a cafe on a corner, speaking his home language, eating his national cuisine, and sitting two feet away could be a citizen of Ul Quoma, talking on his cell phone in a different language, browsing the wares of an Ul Quoman merchant, in a different country with different laws and customs. And they can not interact, or even acknowledge each other's existence in any way, lest they bring the wrath of the mysterious enforcers of this system, Breach.

It's hard to explain. But just imagine a foreign country, one that's even somewhat hostile to yours, that shares an intermingled territory with your own. Anyway, it's a brilliant, unique set-up for a very neo-noir police/murder mystery. This reminded me a lot of Michael Chabon's Yiddish Policeman's Union (another high concept detective story), which I loved. It also bears traces of Kafka's paranoid existential dread and the mind-bending concepts of Phillip K. Dick novels. Fans of Mieville's more baroque fantasy novels will like this, although it's a very different style of book. I'd recommend it to anyone who thinks they'd like a dark, moody mystery with a thought-provoking twist to it. ( )
  Chamblyman | May 19, 2018 |
This book was RIVETING! What a bizarre concept and yet it was executed as well as I could possibly imagine. Miéville's obvious political commentary didn't detract from the fascinating story in this noir-fantasy-crime novel. I appreciated his brusque style and the mind-stretching concepts. The murder mystery wrap up fell a little flat for me and seemed overly drawn out, whereas the city mystery felt like it could have been more fleshed out. Overall, this was a highly enjoyable read that offered a lot more than the story revealed on the surface. ( )
  saresmoore | Mar 20, 2018 |
Did not expect a Hard Boiled mystery from this. Not an easy read, but none of his books are... all are worth the trip. ( )
  kmajort | Feb 9, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 271 (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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Epigraph
"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
Dedication
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!
(ed.pendragon)

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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