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The City & The City [Paperback]

China Mieville
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
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Book Description

April 27 2010 Random House Reader's Circle
NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY THE LOS ANGELES TIMES, THE SEATTLE TIMES, AND PUBLISHERS WEEKLY
 
When a murdered woman is found in the city of Beszel, somewhere at the edge of Europe, it looks to be a routine case for Inspector Tyador Borlú of the Extreme Crime Squad. To investigate, Borlú must travel from the decaying Beszel to its equal, rival, and intimate neighbor, the vibrant city of Ul Qoma. But this is a border crossing like no other, a journey as psychic as it is physical, a seeing of the unseen. With Ul Qoman detective Qussim Dhatt, Borlú is enmeshed in a sordid underworld of nationalists intent on destroying their neighboring city, and unificationists who dream of dissolving the two into one. As the detectives uncover the dead woman’s secrets, they begin to suspect a truth that could cost them more than their lives. What stands against them are murderous powers in Beszel and in Ul Qoma: and, most terrifying of all, that which lies between these two cities.

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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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

“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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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Most helpful customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars City on the Edge of Forever Jan. 8 2014
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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5.0 out of 5 stars Two Skylines Feb. 22 2013
By John M. Ford TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:Kindle Edition
It's not unheard-of to set a mystery against the backdrop of two closely-related cities. Many post-WWII espionage stories play out in East and West Berlin, for example. Cold war spy stories often switch between Washington and Moscow. The two cities in this book take this a step further.

Bes'el and Ul Qoma are... superimposed on each other. In the distant past they were one city--nobody remembers which one. Sometime during a hundred-year gap in the cities' historical record an event called The Cleavage occurred and two cities emerged. Some areas in the "grosstopical" or geographical landscape are in Bes'el and others are in Ul Qoma. Some "crosshatched" areas are in both cities and some of these areas are disputed territory claimed by both as their own. Citizens in each city must go about their business while ignoring the buildings and people in the other city that may be grosstopically close by. The simply unsee them.

Tyador Borlú is a police inspector in Bes'el tasked to investigate the murder of a young woman. The case becomes complicated when it becomes clear that she was murdered in Ul Qoma and left in his city to be discovered. The complications increase when Borlú is convinced that the murderer is also guilty of Breach--seeing both cities simultaneously and moving directly between them. He travels officially to Ul Qoma and begins working with their police force. If Breach has occurred, both cities will surrender jurisdiction to a powerful, shadowy enforcement agency known only as Breach. Their avitars make Breach offenders disappear, never to me mentioned again. When Breach becomes involved, things become even stranger.

China Miéville has done it again.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Blinders July 16 2012
By Dave_42 TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
"The City & The City" is an unusual novel from China Miéville, one which as far as I can tell is rather unique in the fantasy environment in which it takes place. I suppose that most people, if not all, at times become so focused on their own lives that they become less aware of other people who are right in front of us. Certainly people who live in areas where there are a lot of homeless people almost by necessity become blind to the daily condition. Now imagine two cities in different countries, but which use the same space, with the inhabitants of each having learned to ignore the inhabitants and buildings of the other.

Miéville puts together a clever and intriguing crime story in just that type of environment. Inspector Tyador Borlú of the Extreme Crime Squad in BesYel is assigned to investigate the murder of Mahalia Geary, a foreign student who is found dead in BesYel, but he soon learns that she was involved in events in Ul Qoma, the city which shares its space with BesYel. The investigation also leads to theories involving the theoretical third city, Orciny, which was thought to be legendary, but was hypothesized to be in areas between BesYel and Ul Qoma, i.e. the inhabitants of both have been taught to ignore those areas as being part of their twin city.

"The City & The City" was published on May 15th of 2009, and was nominated for as well as won some major awards. It won the Locus Award for Best Fantasy Novel, the Arthur C. Clarke Award, the World Fantasy Award, the British Science Fiction Association Award, it also won the Red Tentacle (best novel) Kitschie award and tied for the Hugo Award. In addition it was nominated for the Nebula and the John W. Campbell Memorial Award.
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