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The City and the City by China Mieville
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The City and the City (original 2009; edition 2010)

by China Mieville

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
4,6752981,544 (3.98)1 / 610
Inspector Tyador Borlú must travel to Ul Qoma to search for answers in the murder of a woman found in the city of Besźel.
Member:stevepugh
Title:The City and the City
Authors:China Mieville
Info:Unknown (2010), Paperback, 373 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:*****
Tags:fiction, novel, science fiction, crime

Work details

The City & The City by China Miéville (2009)

  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. 121
    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. 81
    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 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
    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
    Embassytown by China Miéville (Anonymous user)
  12. 31
    Wave Without a Shore by C. J. Cherryh (reading_fox)
    reading_fox: Covers the same ground regarding visualising concepts.
  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. 20
    The Kindly Ones by Melissa Scott (sandstone78)
    sandstone78: Similar themes of parallel societies.
  15. 20
    The Power by Naomi Alderman (charl08)
    charl08: Both books ask questions about what we take for granted in our everyday realtors..
  16. 20
    The Manual of Detection by Jedediah Berry (ShelfMonkey)
  17. 31
    Night Watch by Sergei Lukyanenko (julienne_preacher)
    julienne_preacher: Both books are about divided realities (and both books are awesome).
  18. 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.
  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
    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 33 recommendations)

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English (291)  French (5)  Polish (1)  Spanish (1)  Romanian (1)  All languages (299)
Showing 1-5 of 291 (next | show all)
I love books that don't just hand you the keys to what is going on, that throw you into the deep end and let you either swim or drown. That's how I feel about The City and the City. ( )
  carliwi | Sep 23, 2019 |
I think Miéville's real weakness is his adherence to genre's tropes. His talent busts these old bags at the seams.

But, like always, his imagination is incredible. ( )
  Adammmmm | Sep 10, 2019 |
China Mieville is one of the more clever writers in any genre. In The City and the City he as written a murder mystery, but one in a place like no other. The cities of Beszel and Ul Qoma reside in the same temporal space connected by crosshatches. And in-between is a shadowy nowhere, the Breach. The boundaries of the two cities are strictly enforced, mostly, so the citizens of each city have learned to “unsee” the other city to avoid entering the wrong temporal space that would put them in Breach. Being in Breach is a bad thing. It can make you disappear. Sound confusing? That’s okay. You’ll get used to it once you’ve inhabited the cities for a time.

Within these cities, well, Beszel is where it starts, a horrific murder of a young woman takes place and we are introduced to our interlocutor, detective Tyador Borlu of the Beszel Extreme Crime Squad. Borlu’s search for the mysterious killer takes us across the cities, across unseen boundaries, in what is in the end, a rather intricate but not atypical murder mystery. As it turns out, the murder takes place in Ul Qoma but the body winds up in a desolate area of Beszel. This makes the murder even more mysterious as it’s not easy to pass through the cities without breaching.

Borlu’s investigation becomes a political hot potato and takes him to the shadowy underworlds of fringe political groups like the “unifs” who want to unify the two cities, to the True Citizens, who are ultra-nationalists wanting power for their particular city. It also takes him to Ul Qoma where the murdered young lady last resided, working on a doctorate at an archeological dig that predates the splitting of the cities. It turns out she was into some rather strange beliefs herself, one of which was there is yet a third and all powerful city, Orciny, occupying this same temporal zone. That put her in a lot of hot water with a lot of fringe political groups so she had plenty of enemies and the suspects abound. And it introduces us to a mystery within a mystery. Does Orciny really exist, or is just an urban legend? And what might the murdered young lady’s search for Orciny have to do with her violent demise? I guess we’ll have to find that out too.

Borlu is a dedicated detective and wants justice for the murdered young woman so he works tirelessly to that end doing what most detectives do – poking his nose all over the place until some type of pattern or answers emerge. And slowly they do emerge and they get very weird indeed. As simply a very good mystery story, this novel works extremely well. Its setting and complexity make it superb.
( )
  DougBaker | Jul 24, 2019 |
Becca (my niece who keeps hoping I can become more literate than the average science nerd) made me read this. Occasionally, I suppose, she thinks it would be good to drag me away from so much 19th-century stuff. Fortunately, I could borrow this book from my library in kindle format. So, to make my niece happy, I requested it.

It took me a while to get into this book. I couldn't figure out what was going on. On one level, it was a sort of standard cop-procedure investigation of a murder. But I had no idea where things were happening. Eventually, I figured it all out. Basically, there are two cities that more-or-less co-exist in the same space. But they are separate and people in each city are required to "unsee" people and buildings in the other city. If they don't, "breach" happens and all hell breaks loose. Or something like that.

The problem comes up that a body is found in one of the cities, but it's pretty certain the murder was committed in the other one and the body transported across city lines. Was the body transportation breach? If so, solving the crime gets relatively easy, the enforcers of breach will take care of things. But the enforcers of breach won't act unless there is clear evidence of breach. Or something.

So the book is part weird fantasy, part police procedural, part murder mystery, and so on. Towards the end it got pretty interesting. What happens if you "sort of" see someone, but you can't tell which city he's in? If he's in your city you can see him without worry, but if he's in the other city, you're not allowed to see him. If you do, breach comes down on your head. Life is complicated in many ways, it seems. ( )
  lgpiper | Jun 21, 2019 |
Holy bleep. I would not want to live in China Mieville's brain.
The only reason why I gave this four stars and not five is because I've read Perdido Street Station and I know that Mieville is capable of even better. ( )
  miri12 | May 31, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 291 (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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Epigraph
"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
Dedication
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 German Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
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Haiku summary
Can cities really
co-exist in the same place?
Beware the frontier!
(ed.pendragon)

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