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The City & The City (2009)

by China Miéville

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
5,2633241,499 (3.98)1 / 642
When the body of a murdered woman is found in the extraordinary, decaying city of Beszel, somewhere at the edge of Europe, it looks like a routine case for Inspector Tyador Borlu of the Extreme Crime Squad. But as he probes, the evidence begins to point to conspiracies far stranger, and more deadly, than anything he could have imagined. Soon his work puts him and those he cares for in danger. Borlu must travel to the only metropolis on Earth as strange as his own, across a border like no other.… (more)
Recently added byednasilrak, Rennie80, xmts.varg, MysteryTea, MarYggdrasilin, private library, pbeagan, TheGalaxyGirl
Legacy LibrariesLeslie Scalapino
  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. 122
    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. 91
    Anathem by Neal Stephenson (chmod007, sturlington)
    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 [short story] 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. 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
    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
  12. 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.
  13. 31
    Night Watch by Sergei Lukyanenko (julienne_preacher)
    julienne_preacher: Both books are about divided realities (and both books are awesome).
  14. 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.
  15. 31
    Embassytown by China Miéville (Anonymous user)
  16. 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....
  17. 20
    The Manual of Detection by Jedediah Berry (ShelfMonkey)
  18. 31
    Wave without a Shore by C. J. Cherryh (reading_fox)
    reading_fox: Covers the same ground regarding visualising concepts.
  19. 20
    The Kindly Ones by Melissa Scott (sandstone78)
    sandstone78: Similar themes of parallel societies.
  20. 20
    A Man of Shadows by Jeff Noon (grizzly.anderson)
    grizzly.anderson: Detective stories set in cites that are turned about 90 degrees from the reality we understand.

(see all 33 recommendations)


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» See also 642 mentions

English (315)  French (5)  Polish (1)  Spanish (1)  Romanian (1)  All languages (323)
Showing 1-5 of 315 (next | show all)
This was a great read, and it really made me think about the world around me in a different light. What would 'new' people think if they see all the strange social rituals we have created for society, specific to certain places and cultures.

The world [a:China Mieville|4851070|China Mieville|http://www.goodreads.com/images/nophoto/nophoto-U-50x66.jpg] created is difficult to understand at first, but after finishing the book seems almost normal and is mostly background to the story of characters and crime within.

( )
  Madjia | Jun 1, 2021 |
Starting out I thought the superimposed yet separate cities concept was just there to add window dressing to an otherwise routine murder mystery. But as the (audio)book progressed the political, cultural, and even metaphysical divisions between the two cities took on a presence as strong the investigation itself. Although this was slow to build, narrator Christopher Lee’s emphasis on the book’s Eastern European crime noir flavor kept me listening long enough for for Mieville’s intricate world building to take shape. And the payoff for that was definitely worth the wait. ( )
  wandaly | Apr 23, 2021 |
Probably the best parallel dimension story ever told. Its seriously weird. ( )
  illmunkeys | Apr 22, 2021 |
Delightfully odd and complex. Enjoyed it thoroughly. ( )
  JBD1 | Feb 27, 2021 |
Nothing I write here is going to prepare you for your visit to the city, or the city. It’s enough to know that two cities exist, that they co-exist, but that they never intrude upon each other, even in the cross-hatched space that they ostensibly share. They don’t intrude or protrude because the citizens of each are circumspect, they unsee and unhear all protuberances from the city which they are not themselves in. They do it instinctually after years of practice. They also do it because it’s the law. Not the law of the city, or of the city. But rather the law of Breach. To see the other city, to go there without a visa and through the normal bureaucratic channels (and training), to interact with those others illicitly is breach. When you breach, Breach comes for you, silently, irrevocably, and you are never going to be seen by anyone in either city again. So when a murder appears to have been committed in one city and then that body is deposited in the other city, it looks, on the surface, like a clear case of breach. But what detective Tyador Borlú of the Extreme Crime Squad will shortly discover is that in this case almost nothing is what it appears to be, whether seen or unseen.

This is an astounding feat of careful craftsmanship from China Miéville. I dread to think what pains he must have taken not to get lost in the labyrinthine circumlocutions needed to describe his characters’ actions, thoughts, and the cities themselves. Honestly, it makes the book a real struggle to read at first, but eventually, and then increasingly, you simply sit back in awe at what he is doing. I am not easily impressed. Here I was entirely impressed.

There’s not much more to say. Go and give this book a try. But be patient with it. Don’t give up. It will eventually make sense even if your head hurts at the end of it all.

Certainly recommended. ( )
1 vote RandyMetcalfe | Feb 24, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 315 (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
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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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Wikipedia in English (2)

When the body of a murdered woman is found in the extraordinary, decaying city of Beszel, somewhere at the edge of Europe, it looks like a routine case for Inspector Tyador Borlu of the Extreme Crime Squad. But as he probes, the evidence begins to point to conspiracies far stranger, and more deadly, than anything he could have imagined. Soon his work puts him and those he cares for in danger. Borlu must travel to the only metropolis on Earth as strange as his own, across a border like no other.

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Book description
Haiku summary
Can cities really
co-exist in the same place?
Beware the frontier!

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