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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
3,4712351,533 (3.97)1 / 457
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)

Recently added bydschnell, thebigidea, countrylife, Dejah_Thoris, private library, zlmc
  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 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. 40
    Finch by Jeff VanderMeer (ShelfMonkey)
  7. 40
    Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius by Jorge Luis Borges (bertilak)
  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. 31
    Wave without a shore by C. J. Cherryh (reading_fox)
    reading_fox: Covers the same ground regarding visualising concepts.
  12. 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....
  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. 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.
  15. 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)
  16. 10
    Embassytown by China Miéville (Anonymous user)
  17. 10
    The Manual of Detection by Jedediah Berry (ShelfMonkey)
  18. 00
    Night Watch by Sergei Lukyanenko (julienne_preacher)
    julienne_preacher: Both books are about divided realities (and both books are awesome).
  19. 00
    Soft City by Jonathan Raban (sek_smith)
  20. 00
    The Kindly Ones by Melissa Scott (sandstone78)
    sandstone78: Similar themes of parallel societies.

(see all 28 recommendations)


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English (224)  French (4)  Polish (1)  Spanish (1)  Romanian (1)  All languages (231)
Showing 1-5 of 224 (next | show all)
A young woman has been murdered and Inspector Tyador Borlu from Beszel must investigate with Detective Qussim Dhatt from Beszel's sister city Ul Qoma. It's not like what goes on in Vegas stays in Vegas because Beszel and Ul Qoma share the same streets, sometimes the same building only in some cases the name and function are changed. This novel is like reading a Graphic Novel without the Graphics. Well actually, the Graphics are in the readers mind as you imagine how these mirror cities look in 3D version. Characters seem undeveloped and unsympathetic. Frankly, too much unseeing and unlistening simply made this reader undone! ( )
  Carmenere | Mar 19, 2015 |
Somewhere in eastern Europe in a world that appears to be essentially our own is a city which is "cross-hatched": two cities occupy the same space, and each functions on its own with "breaches" between the two being marked as forbidden and carrying strict penalties. A detective from one of the cities discovers that the case he's working on most likely involves a Breach--the woman was almost certainly killed in the other city and dumped in his. The investigation leads him to ask questions about the nature of his world.

Meh. The premise here intrigued me greatly and Mieville occasionally hits you with a just gorgeous sentence, but for the most part, the writing seemed a bit choppy and the promises of the premise were never quite delivered. The novel is both and neither a detective story and science fiction, and the tension between the genres never felt useful or revealing. The solution to the mystery no longer seemed terribly relevant by the time we got to it, what with all the intrigue about a possible third city and hints at revelations about the world. And those revelations never materialized; that coupled with spare world building made the story less than satisfying as science fiction.

I'm tentatively interested in reading more by Mieville since The City & the City did interest me in some ways, but I'm not getting what makes this one work. ( )
  lycomayflower | Mar 9, 2015 |
I read this pretty much purely as a mystery/thriller set in a fantastical setting/alternate present reality, not because the analogies to the real world do not interest me but because my extremely mildly autism spectrum brain has great difficulty recognising those layers within layers. I'm aware that I'm probably missing out on something because of this, but there's nothing I can do about it so I try not to worry. On that basis, I enjoyed this, my third excursion into Miéville's oeuvre, greatly. The pacing, plot and characterisation are up to his usual very high standard. ( )
  Vivl | Feb 24, 2015 |
This is one of my favorite books of all time. I love the ramshackle feel of the City, plus the metaphor of being in denial. Anything more would be a spoiler.
  JuliaMira | Feb 24, 2015 |
A young woman is found murdered, her body dumped in a run-down section of the city of Beszel. Inspector Taydor Borlú of the Extreme Crime Squad begins his investigation, and with the help of constable Lizbyet Corwi, they piece together the woman's past associations with a nationalist group and with an archaeological dig by the University. Unhappily, their leads point them toward the crime occurring in their sister city of Ul Qoma. Rather than trying to gain access to Ul Qoma, Borlú creates a case so the Breach—a group more powerful than the police in both cities—can take control of the investigation. Instead of Breach taking the case, Borlú finds himself traveling across the guarded border into Ul Qoma to work with Detective Qussim Bhatt. Their conflicting styles of investigation force Borlú to work things out on his own, ultimately revealing a darker mystery surrounding the past of Beszel and Ul Qoma.

"The City & The City" is a great crime novel filled with political intrigue. Yet, I found myself bogged down with trying to understand the physics of Beszel and Ul Qoma. I'm still not sure if the two cities lie next to each other or are the same city but seen through different eyes. Borlú can be standing on the street in Beszel while the other side of the same street is in Ul Qoma, and he's technically not allowed to see the Ul Qoman side. Throughout the story, the characters try to "unsee" what's directly in front of them for fear of invoking Breach, which I never fully understood, either. In fact, I found it frustrating enough to impact my enjoyment of the story. And it is a good story, reading how Borlú's mind works, piecing the clues together while tiptoeing around the politics of Beszel, Ul Qoma, and Breach. And throwing him into Ul Qoma, where he is forced to change his way of viewing the world, seeing things that before he had to "unsee", I enjoyed watching him maintain the delicate balance without causing too much havoc.

It's an okay read, but I would have enjoyed it more with a better understanding of the two cities. ( )
  ocgreg34 | Feb 7, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 224 (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 (16 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Miéville, Chinaprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Lee, JohnNarratorsecondary 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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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 Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:05:53 -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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