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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
4,1132741,223 (3.97)1 / 559
  1. 150
    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. 111
    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. 101
    Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman (ahstrick)
  4. 80
    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. 50
    Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius by Jorge Luis Borges (bertilak)
  6. 50
    Finch by Jeff VanderMeer (ShelfMonkey)
  7. 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.
  8. 51
    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
    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)
  10. 20
    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. 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)
  12. 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
  13. 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.
  14. 31
    Wave Without a Shore by C. J. Cherryh (reading_fox)
    reading_fox: Covers the same ground regarding visualising concepts.
  15. 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....
  16. 20
    The Manual of Detection by Jedediah Berry (ShelfMonkey)
  17. 21
    Embassytown by China Miéville (Anonymous user)
  18. 10
    Cities by Peter Crowther (bertilak)
  19. 10
    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. 10
    The Power by Naomi Alderman (charl08)
    charl08: Both books ask questions about what we take for granted in our everyday realtors..

(see all 30 recommendations)


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English (266)  French (5)  Polish (1)  Spanish (1)  Romanian (1)  All (274)
Showing 1-5 of 266 (next | show all)
Not my favorite Mieville, but not my least favorite. This is another one were the environment is the plot, I mean there are characters, and there is a mystery, but the environmental factors stick out more than any of that.

It was interesting and well written, but I felt like I never really fully understood, the environmental mechanic, so I feel like I may have missed some finer points.

Since Mieville has written some of my all-time favorite books I'll keep reading his stuff in hopes for that same reaction to future books. ( )
  ragwaine | Sep 17, 2017 |
Did quite enjoy this, but annoyed that it was never fully explained why the central conceit of "Breaching" was such a heinous crime. ( )
  Fergster73 | Aug 15, 2017 |
It's a mystery, so I was biased against it from the start, but it had enough quirks and weirdness to keep me interested all the way through. Even so it's my least favorite Miéville so far. The present-day eastern european setting brings something different to the genre and it works well for me. (Btw, is it scifi or fantasy, I'm not quite sure?) ( )
  pan0ramix | May 26, 2017 |
The City & the City is essentially a police procedural in a strange and interesting setting. The book opens up with our main character, Inspector Tyador Borlú, arriving onto the scene where a dead woman has been found. The story follows him as he attempts to solve the mystery.

The setting intrigued me from the moment we were given the first hint of it at the end of the first chapter. The story itself was ok. It held my interest, but I wasn’t completely absorbed by it. What made the story interesting to me was its setting and the way the setting affected the murder investigation. The problem for me was that the story wasn’t about the setting, and that was the part I was most interested in reading about. There was very little background given about it, and very few tangible explanations. It still played a huge role in the story, and was still fun to read about, but I wanted more meat.

I had a heck of a time deciding how to shelve this. I don’t like to get too complicated with my shelving. If a book crosses genres, I try to pick whichever general genre seems to fit it the best. If a book tells a mystery story in a science fiction or fantasy setting, then I’ll shelve it as either science fiction or fantasy. But this book? I don’t know. On Goodreads, the majority of members have shelved it as fantasy. That surprises me, but maybe most people took certain aspects of this story a lot more literally than I did. Science fiction doesn’t really fit either, although I’d buy into that more readily than I’d buy into the fantasy label. In the end, I decided to just stick with the one thing I was sure of and shelve it as “mystery”. :)

I have some more comments about the setting, but I’ll have to put them behind spoiler tags:
I really, really wanted to know the history of how the city came to be fractured the way it was. We were given some very vague and generic theories, but nothing tangible. I guess the explanation wouldn’t really have fit properly in the story, since none of the characters knew the answer themselves.

As I read, I was constantly trying to decide whether or not the city was actually, physically divided in some way or if it was all psychological and cultural. In the end, I decided it was psychological/cultural since people and objects could easily pass between the cities as if they had just walked across a normal street. The people in Breach also didn’t seem, once we saw them in action, to have any special abilities beyond training to help them blend in and access to technology to help them keep tabs on what was going on. I think each country at some point in the past, for some reason nobody knows, took possession of different parts of the city and built those parts up with their own architectural style. But I wanted to know how it got that way. It seems like there’s interesting story potential there.

We also weren’t really told why breach was such a big taboo either, although it’s a little easier to speculate why two different countries with tense relations would want to maintain (or simulate, anyway) strict borders. The concept of “unseeing” was a fun one, and it added an interesting element to the murder investigation. I could completely buy into the idea that people who grew up in this setting would find it natural to unsee the “foreign” people and their city even though they were really sharing the same city. People in the real world also learn to unsee things they don’t want to see, although maybe not quite on this scale.
( )
  YouKneeK | Apr 21, 2017 |
Like the space between Besźel and Ul Qoma, Miéville carves out a genre space between mysteries, thrillers, and speculative fiction with a book that fully belongs to none of them, but takes the best parts of all of them. ( )
  Katya0133 | Mar 2, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 266 (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 (13 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
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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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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.

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