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The City & The City by China Mieville

The City & The City (original 2009; edition 2010)

by China Mieville

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
3,6232421,455 (3.97)1 / 518
Title:The City & The City
Authors:China Mieville
Info:Del Rey (2010), Trade Paperback, 312 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:fiction, 2009, Clarke, BSFA, Hugo, Locus, World Fantasy

Work details

The City & The City by China Miéville (2009)

  1. 130
    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. 101
    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. 70
    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.
  4. 71
    Neverwhere: A Novel by Neil Gaiman (ahstrick)
  5. 50
    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.
  6. 50
    Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius by Jorge Luis Borges (bertilak)
  7. 40
    Finch by Jeff VanderMeer (ShelfMonkey)
  8. 30
    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.
  9. 30
    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
    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
  11. 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.
  12. 31
    Wave Without a Shore by C. J. Cherryh (reading_fox)
    reading_fox: Covers the same ground regarding visualising concepts.
  13. 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....
  14. 10
    The Kindly Ones by Melissa Scott (sandstone78)
    sandstone78: Similar themes of parallel societies.
  15. 10
    Embassytown by China Miéville (Anonymous user)
  16. 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.
  17. 10
    The Manual of Detection by Jedediah Berry (ShelfMonkey)
  18. 10
    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)
  19. 00
    La Vie des Insectes by Viktor Pelevin (sek_smith)
  20. 00
    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)

(see all 29 recommendations)


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English (234)  French (5)  Polish (1)  Spanish (1)  Romanian (1)  All languages (242)
Showing 1-5 of 234 (next | show all)
Really well-done. I was tempted to give it 5 stars; the difficult conceptual details of the story were so thoroughly thought-out that it was completely believable, despite the incredible premise.

(And next time you wander around in a big city, think about the people and places you *aren't* seeing, that you're letting your eye pass over. The service workers, the homeless, the distressed, the panhandlers, the mentally-ill.) ( )
  ronhenry | Nov 17, 2015 |
Not as compelling as Perdido St. Station, but interesting premise. Mystery a bit humdrum. Wonder if this will become a series. Might improve with future development. ( )
  crosbyp | Nov 14, 2015 |
This is the last full novel for my TA-ship (we're covering essays, short stories, and excerpts of novels I've read recently for the rest of the term). The content about crosshatched/overlapping cities mirrors the form--fantasy and detective fiction can and do occupy the same space. Furthermore, both forms are obsessed with place (an obsession I also had in poetry, of being in situ). Genre space is policed somewhat differently than the cities in this novel, of course.

The policing of genre makes me think of the recent disparaging remarks made by Ishiguro about fantasy and Ursula Le Guin's brilliant response. Detective fiction is considered more "literary" than fantasy, but both are considered lesser than Literature-with-a-capital-L. I find describing genre fiction as the ghetto of Literature Land to be elitist bullshit.

Mieville mentions, in the interview at the end of the book, that he wanted to write a novel his mother would love. My mother reads genre fiction almost exclusively, so I deeply connected with his comment. I like engaging in family reading traditions as well as exploring academic literary traditions, and the two are not mutually exclusive--this is a book I'd recommend to my mom after reading it for a Berkeley class. But a lot of fantasy/crime novels are scoffed at by the academy while still being loved by my family.

I was especially impressed by Mieville's ability to take on a vastly different prose style than in Perdido Street Station and The Scar. The prose in The City and the City did occasionally resemble his prose in King Rat, but it very much sang in the key of Chandler. A beautiful and brilliant book, overall.
  Marjorie_Jensen | Nov 12, 2015 |
In the first 5 pages I knew that this book would be the one to hand to friends that had never read or enjoyed Mieville's previous fantasy novels.
Not because it is lacking in the fantastical--the opposite is true, this book relies, has a foundation, in a deeply fantastical premise--but the nature of the prose (an interesting Eastern European syntax) & storytelling framework (Noir Procedural) allow for Mieville's talent to receive greater exposure.

I'm not going to say anything about the plot--the uncovering of the central conceit & the mystery are crucial to the enjoyment of the novel.

Bruno Schulz has been cited as a direct influence; others name-drop Kafka, but let's not forget Philip Kerr's Berlin Noir Trilogy. And Mieville is an acutely visual writer who obviously drew inspiration from 30s & 40s Noir film.

Mieville's imagination & literary range just keep expanding, & for mystery & fantasy buffs, this book is a perfect fit. ( )
  VladVerano | Oct 20, 2015 |
How much does perception shape reality? Inspector Tyador Borlu of the Extreme Crime Squad finds a deadly conspiracy beneath a routine murder, and joins Detective Qussim Dhatt of his sister city Ul Quoma in trying to untangle the sordid web of nationalism and unificationism in twin cities that just happen to occupy the same space.

This was an incredibly China Mieville novel, if that makes sense -- and its concept, while interesting, was incredibly confusing for a good long while. It was both fascinating and overwhelming, and it absolutely overshadowed the story in a lot of ways. ( )
  lyrrael | Oct 17, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 234 (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 (15 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Miéville, Chinaprimary authorall 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 Italian 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.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 8 descriptions

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