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 Borlof the Extreme Crime Squad. But as he investigates, the evidence points to conspiracies far stranger and more deadly than anything he could have imagined.
Borl must travel from the decaying Beszel to the only metropolis on Earth as strange as his own. This is a border crossing like no other, a journey as psychic as it is physical, a shift in perception, a seeing of the unseen. His destination is Beszel's equal, rival, and intimate neighbor, the rich and vibrant city of Ul Qoma.
With Ul Qoman detective Qussim Dhatt, and struggling with his own transition, Borl is enmeshed in a sordid underworld of rabid 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 and those they care about 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.
Casting shades of Kafka and Philip K. Dick, Raymond Chandler and 1984, The City & the City is a murder mystery taken to dazzling metaphysical and artistic heights.
©2009 China Mieville; (P)2009 Random House
"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)
"An excellent police procedural and a fascinating urban fantasy, this is essential reading for all mystery and fantasy fans." (Booklist)
"Mr. Miéville's novels - seven so far - have been showered with prizes; three have won the Arthur C. Clarke award, given annually to the best science fiction novel published in Britain…. [H]e stands out from the crowd for the quality, mischievousness and erudition of his writing…. Among the many topics that bubble beneath the wild imagination at play are millennial anxiety, religious cults, the relationship between the citizen and the state and the role of fate and free will." (The New York Times)
Tell us about yourself!
Two cities in the same geographical location where the residents live side by side by un-seeing each other, ignoring each other. This is confusing to begin with and of course makes you think of the Berlin wall, but somehow China Mieville makes it work and we run along side Inspector Borlu as he investigates a crime spanning across the two cities.
Absolutely. Touted as an
Ending seemed too irrelevant, like a great trip with no destination...no wrap up, no conclusion, no real answers or resolution.
His very elegant and rich voice that lends credibility to an otherwise totally Kafka-ish bizarre story--definitely pronounciation.
Think. There were some great reviews written (Ryan from MA, Jefferson from Japan) and some that missed the boat--the dock--the city...the
A good introduction to Mieville; looking forward to reading more of his works.
I'm sure this is a great book, as the reviews suggest, but I tend to listen to audiobooks while doing other things and I found that it was very easy to miss things in this recording. It seems like a dense 'read' that you need to pay attention to in order to appreciate. I usually like urban fantasy and mysteries (I love the Dresden files, for example) but I just couldn't get into this.
No one could reasonably describe China Mieville as a risk-averse author. He never sticks with a safe formula, preferring to take his chances on a Big Idea. Inevitably, such efforts sometimes fail. Personally, I would classify Perdido Street Station and Railsea as such failures, and The Kraken as at best a marginal success. But when Mieville succeeds, as he does in this book, he succeeds spectacularly. With great risk comes great reward.
Perhaps I should mention that I grew up in Cold War Berlin, the divided city. The Wall came down nearly a quarter-century ago, but the recollection of an ordinary residential street interrupted by grey concrete, a sight so familiar that it goes unseen despite its profound wrongness, continues to haunt me. This book tapped into that haunting, reminding readers along the way of the manifold ways in which human perception yields to human will, human history, and human politics.
For the first few hours, I was wondering: how did this setting come about? And why? But these questions subsided, because the way the characters dealt negotiated this setting was so compelling and so plausible, despite the fundamental implausibility of the setting itself. In other words, Mieville has used the conventions of genre fiction to reveal aspects of the human condition that ordinarily go unremarked. Does any of us truly understand all the historical and cultural baggage with which we must contend in ordinary life?
Big Idea books can get pedantic, but this is not one of them, because Mieville is a master storyteller. Even listeners who like their entertainment light will enjoy this book as a straight detective story.
I go hot and cold on John Lee's narrations. He sometimes has trouble with dialogue. But I have no complaints about this performance.
Mieville has created the unique situation of a temporal singularity of two cities occupying the small physical space. Without explanation, a murder mystery unfolds within this unusual arrangement. No attempt is made to provide information for how this has come to be, but that actually fits in with the rest the story. Each city's occupants are taught to "unsee" the other and strict rules have evolved with brutal consequences for any discovered "breach" of the separation.Against this backdrop a police detective from one of the cities seeks to investigate a murder on his turf.
The maintenance of this overlapping arrangement with all the attendant oversight involved appears as a metaphor for all of our society's unspoken rules that everyone accepts, but without a proper basis or reason along with unofficial enforcement, such as not wearing white after Labor Day. The twists and turns as the investigation proceeds are well paced and mostly unanticipated.
The final resolution may not be most satisfying, but predictable and logical given that our detective increasingly finds it more and more difficult to work effectively with the existing restrictions. This story will leave the listener a bit suspicious when walking their own streets afterwards.
Well written, but so dull, plotless and insipid, I had to delete the file.. Sounded great in the description, but utterly dull..
I'd listened to Perdido Street Station and absolutely loved it - what I liked about it were the broad variety of characters, how they developed and interacted, and also the characters, creatures and stories apart from the main plot that sketched out Mieville's fantastic world. In comparison to that, The City & The City is very minimalistic and plot driven, qualities I don't much enjoy. The two cities never really came alive for me, the way Bas Lag did. I'm sure it is a great listen for people who like detective novels, but it wasn't for me.
I was so disappointed in this book. Its hard to believe that it was written by the same person as "Perdido Street Station" and "The Scar"! Those were both amazingly creative and imaginative books. This one really fell short.
The basic idea is that there are groups of people living right beside us who we don't see or we "un-see". Think, for example, of the homeless, or people of different colour or culture. Mr. Mieville takes this observation of human nature and tries to build a whole book around it about two different countries that live enmeshed together. They're not in different dimensions or anything like that, just that you're not allowed to look at the other guy. Maybe it would have worked for a short story, but the observation is too thin to support a whole book.
Too much of the book is taken up with describing the efforts of characters to "un-see" or "un-know" the other country. He seems to be so caught up in the the un-seeing that it seems to overwhelm the whole book and got very tiring.
The policing of this separation is "The Breach" which is a shadowing presence. There is some potential here, but he never really develops it. Everyone is terrified of Breach, but this fear seems to hang in the middle of nothing: unexplained and unbelievable. Breach turns out to be as unremarkable as the rest of the world he has created. Neither the history nor the rationale for the separation are explained.
The nominal plot is a murder mystery, but even there it falls short. The ending is abrupt and ultimately unfulfilling. Even the ending is consumed with descriptions of "un-seeing" and scandalously walking from one side of the street to the other side!
I finished the book, but I'm so very disappointed!! China Mieville was really one of my favorites, but I don't think I'll buy any more of his books.
A great thriller with a very cool, if complex, premise. While the foreign names and sometimes confusing story would make this a better read in hard copy, I really enjoyed listening to this book. Give it some time to sink in - it's worth the time.
When I put the book down (shut my ipod off) I was disappointed. Sure, I read a great detective book with all the plot changes, surprises and tension you would expect, but I guess I expected a different kind of book.
The City and the City has an original setting, that takes a while to understand. A nice change from the usual sci fi, fantasy books I've been reading lately. Character development was my biggest issue, we learn nothing about the main character's personal life, or about his colleagues' for that matter. It's like a stand alone episode of CSI. Also, I'm not a big fan of the narrator. Different characters can hardly be distinguished.
Though it's entertaining, the author could've done more with the great setting, two doppelganger cities, he put out there.
Report Inappropriate Content