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The City & The City Hardcover – May 26 2009

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Del Rey (May 26 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345497511
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345497512
  • Product Dimensions: 24.1 x 16.7 x 2.9 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 590 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #365,813 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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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 and 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


“Daring and disturbing . . . Miéville illuminates fundamental and unsettling questions about culture, governance and the shadowy differences that keep us apart.”—Walter Mosley, author of Devil in a Blue Dress

"Lots of books dabble in several genres but few manage to weld them together as seamlessly and as originally as The City and The City. In a tale set in a series of cities vertiginously layered in the same space, Miéville offers the detective novel re-envisioned through the prism of the fantastic. The result is a stunning piece of artistry that has both all the satisfactions of a good mystery and all the delight and wonder of the best fantasy.”—Brian Evenson, author of Last Days

“If Philip K. Dick and Raymond Chandler's love child were raised by Franz Kafka, the writing that emerged might resemble China Mieville's new novel, The City & the City." —Los Angeles Times

“China Mieville has made his name via award-winning, genre-bending titles such as King Rat, Perdido Street Station, The Scar and Iron Council. Now, in The City & the City, he sets out to bend yet another genre, that of the police procedural, and he succeeds brilliantly…. [An] extraordinary, wholly engaging read.” — St. Petersburg Times

“An eye-opening genre-buster. The names of Kafka and Orwell tend to be invoked too easily for anything a bit out of the ordinary, but in this case they are worthy comparisons.” — The Times, London

“Evoking such writers as Franz Kafka and Mikhail Bulgakov, Mr. Miéville asks readers to make conceptual leaps and not to simply take flights of fancy.”—Wall Street Journal

“An outstanding take on police procedurals…. Through this exaggerated metaphor of segregation, Miéville skillfully examines the illusions people embrace to preserve their preferred social realities.” — Publishers Weekly, starred review

“An excellent police procedural and a fascinating urban fantasy, this is essential reading for all mystery and fantasy fans.”—Booklist, starred review

“This spectacularly, intricately paranoid yarn is worth the effort.” — Kirkus, starred review

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Coach C TOP 1000 REVIEWER on Aug. 4 2009
Format: Hardcover
This is my first China Miéville book but it's safe to say it won't be my last. The basic premise of this Sci-Fi mystery is the existence of 2 cities superimposed on one another in such a way that those who live in one city must not "see" those who live in the other city. The plot follows a detective who is investigating a murder which leads into contact with the omnipresent Breach who patrol the boundaries of cities and the complex network of the underworld -- people who believe in a third city existing between the 2 cities, unificationists, and various other unsavory characters.

There is not question that Miéville's imagination is superb. The book and story remind me of other futuristic type movies like Blade Runner or Minority Report. It has the same intelligent design and innovations. It definitely could be made into a movie which would really bring to life the 2 cities. As a story though, I did feel that parts of the book were repetitious and laborious to get through, especially in the latter third of the book.

Overall, "The City and The City" is a good read for anyone who is into mysteries or Sci-Fi thrillers.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By C. Bielech on July 6 2009
Format: Hardcover
Yet another incredibly imaginative and intricate concept. If you enjoyed other China Miéville books, you have to read this one too. When I started the book, I had to slow down to figure out if I was reading the sentences incorrectly or if the location of the action was really as outrageous as it seemed. When I finished the book, I felt like I had been exiled from the most interesting place in anyone's imagination. What a feat to make it so real, so believable.
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By Donald Mitchell #1 HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on Feb. 1 2010
Format: Paperback
". . . [M]any prophets and righteous men desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it." -- Matthew 13:17

The City & The City is ostensibly a first person detective novel about trying to solve a murder that occurred in two cities that co-exist in the same space . . . but which social convention requires be treated as though they are quite far apart. The mystery is there to help you accept the fantasy of two cities deliberately ignoring one another while being perfectly aware of each others' existence. To me, this wasn't as much a fantasy as a commentary on the trend toward isolation in modern urban and suburban living. You might be surrounded by people, but you will do your best to act as though they are not there.

From that perspective, the book is a terrific exploration of how deliberate choices to limit our knowledge causes us miss out on the potential of what's in front of our noses and all around us. I would have graded it higher, but I found that Mr. Mieville's treatment of the central theme was much too drawn out to be fully rewarding. It felt a little to me like the times when someone has told me a joke for which the punch line was obvious, but who insisted on telling me the punch line again and again . . . hoping I would laugh aloud on one of the tries.

The detective story is more interesting and amusing near the beginning than near the end, the opposite of most good police procedurals. I did enjoy Mr. Mieville's taking his story seriously enough to develop the detailed complications that he fantasy world must contain.

I don't normally read much fantasy, but here I thought that the fantasy served its purpose better than traditional contemporary fiction writing would have.

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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is not science fiction or even fantasy; it is a murder mystery with a setting that, like all of the Mieville i have read to date, is so perfectly integrated with the prose that it borders on being tactile. It is an excellent story set in a world that the reader has to give some dedication to. My only complaint would be the companion pieces thrown in by the editors (book club questions and an interview with the author). I know. I know. I do not have to read them but, I am compelled to read them and i always, without exception, wish i had not. The interview does provide some interesting opinions about literature in general from Mieville and others may enjoy it.
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Format: Paperback
There is a long history of science fiction books that mimic some of the nuance of hard boiled/noir stories, starting as far back as Isaac Asimov’s Caves of Steel or perhaps farther. Both science fiction and detective fiction emerged mainly from pulp magazine roots in the U.S. and have to some extent maintained a closer connection to each other than the differences between the two genres might suggest. A mystery is always a good way to get some forward momentum in a plot. Also, a detective investigating a crime is a great way to introduce a strange society to a reader unversed in that world.

One thing I admire about China Mieville’s work is his invention of completely unique fantasy worlds, most of which owe more to the modern European urban landscape than the pseudo-medieval worlds of knights and dragons. He loves to write about cities in all their grit and glory and London is often his muse, especially those areas of the city neglected in other British fiction. I am amazed to be honest that there are still new places to be written about in this, fiction’s most written about city. The city setting of London is to the English language novel what Tokyo is to manga.

The City and the City is a bit of departure for Mieville as, instead of London, the setting recalls to mind Cold War Berlin when it was a city divided between East Germany and West Germany. There is also a flavor of the tiny Balkan city-state like Sarajevo in some of the descriptions and character names. The two city-states of Ul Quoma and Beszel seem to be two alternate version of the same space that overlap and “crosshatch” in places. I say “seem” to be because the relationship between the Beszel and Ul Quoma presented in the book is never fully made clear.
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