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The City & The City (2009)

by China Miéville

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
5,5493291,520 (3.98)1 / 663
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)
  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
    Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius [short story] by Jorge Luis Borges (bertilak)
  6. 70
    Finch by Jeff VanderMeer (ShelfMonkey)
  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. 41
    Night Watch by Sergei Lukyanenko (julienne_preacher)
    julienne_preacher: Both books are about divided realities (and both books are awesome).
  11. 30
    The Power by Naomi Alderman (charl08)
    charl08: Both books ask questions about what we take for granted in our everyday realtors..
  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
    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)
  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. 20
    The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi (sturlington)
  16. 20
    The Kindly Ones by Melissa Scott (sandstone78)
    sandstone78: Similar themes of parallel societies.
  17. 20
    The Manual of Detection by Jedediah Berry (ShelfMonkey)
  18. 31
    Embassytown by China Miéville (Anonymous user)
  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
    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 34 recommendations)


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» See also 663 mentions

English (320)  French (5)  Polish (1)  Spanish (1)  Romanian (1)  All languages (328)
Showing 1-5 of 320 (next | show all)
A really marvellous fantasy, built around a brilliant central concept and with some memorable set pieces. The book is rich with detail and ideas but they never get in the way of the story. If I have one criticism it's that the story (seasoned cop investigates the murder of a mysterious woman) seems a bit pedestrian at times, but that's a minor grumble when there is so much brilliance elsewhere in the book. ( )
  whatmeworry | Apr 9, 2022 |
I couldn't find any aspect of this book that really worked or engaged me. I finished it out of duty, to see if I really was missing something.

The place was good, but more "gritty" than real. The "unseeing" thing wasn't convincingly possible, especially because he refuses to say how the cities got to that point. The cops had way too much time on their hands and no particular urgency, they interviewed about one person per day and spent the rest of the time drinking coffee or surfing the internet for clues. The plot was a pile of mysteries wrapped up with a Inspector Borlú Explains It All that went on for six pages (!). There weren't enough clues to engage the reader in solving it, we were just along for the ride.

It echos and combines a lot of other work but the result doesn't add anything. It is just an echo. The "unseeing" is a close cousin of Doublethink, but without any of the intensity. It is just another weird thing that the citizens do. The interleaving of the city is clever, but just doesn't add that much. It would not be hard to recast the story in East and West Berlin, and it just wouldn't lose that much. It might become more concrete, more real.

Overall, a rather cold reading experience, but not interestingly so.
( )
  wunder | Feb 3, 2022 |
A detective novel in a wholly unfamiliar setting, two cities that occupy the same space. This fantasy has a great premise and it is a pleasure to read.. The Mystery of the crime is far outweighed by the mystery of the Breech, or even the mystery of how these peoples can coexist in such a precarious situation. Simply outstanding! ( )
  skid0612 | Dec 11, 2021 |
This is a fascinating book. Both a classic detective story and a fantasy, the latter not normally a genre I'm fond of. It's a page turner with several interesting characters. The writing is terrific, especially the way that the two cities, and the way they intersect, are described. Very visual, lots of fun to read. ( )
  meredk | Aug 1, 2021 |
Great premise: two cites (Beszel and Ul Qoma), with differing cultures and vibes occuping the same space. People living there must deal with their unusual reality, and avoid acknowledging their duality. The main character is Detective Borlu of the Extreme Crime Squad in Beszel who is investigating a murder of a young woman. She had been a bit of a maverick herself, researching the existence of yet another dimension, portrayed as a child's tale. As Borlu investigates and crosses over to Ul Qoma, he and we as readers are drawn further and further into politics, a bigger mystery and conspiracy. Creative and thought-provoking. ( )
  skipstern | Jul 11, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 320 (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
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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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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