China Miéville’s The City & The City

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Recently I have been struggling with very long novels with no rapid narratives or any narratives at all. China Miéville’s The City & The City provided me the pleasure of reading a good novel with quality… It is a Hugo Award winner. That is, it serves better for Science Fiction fans but for the outsiders I should state that contemporary science fiction is not about space adventures any more. The story takes place somewhere in Europe (I feel it is Eastern Europe). I was particularly impressed with the idea of “unseeing” the rival national subjects despite occupying the same space…

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 –This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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