Wednesday, January 05, 2011

The City & the City

I like China Mieville. Iron Council is my least favorite so far, but his work appeals to me. I wish now I had gone ahead and read The City & the City when it came out in hardback, but I waited until it came out in paperback and deprived myself. Ah, well, live and learn. I'll buy them when I see them in hard cover from now on.

The City & the City (2009) is a mystery novel that takes place in a pair of fantasy cities. It is a straight mystery story, but the setting is fascinating. Chapter 1 can be read here. It tied for the 2010 Hugo for Best Novel, won the Arthur C. Clarke award (for the 3rd time) and won both the World Fantasy and BSFA awards for best novel.

from the back of the book:
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.

SF Reviews opens by calling it "China Miéville's best novel since The Scar, and the tightest and most politically observant of his career." SF Site calls it "Miéville's finest work to date." SF Signal's review closes with this:
What drew me to a re-read on The City & The City is that the story works on so many levels. It works as a police procedural. It works as an examination of class distinctions. It works as a biting statement on the things that we, as a society, choose to see and to unsee on a daily basis.
Michael Moorcock has a review of this book at The Guardian that closes by saying,
As in no previous novel, the author celebrates and enhances the genre he loves and has never rejected. On many levels this novel is a testament to his admirable integrity. Keeping his grip firmly on an idea which would quickly slip from the hands of a less skilled writer, Miéville again proves himself as intelligent as he is original.

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