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The City & the City

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3.91  ·  Rating Details ·  35,510 Ratings  ·  4,092 Reviews
Inspector Tyador Borlú of the Extreme Crime Squad finds deadly conspiracies beneath a seemingly routine murder. From the decaying Beszel, he joins detective Qussim Dhatt in rich vibrant Ul Qoma, and both are enmeshed in a sordid underworld. Rabid nationalists are intent on destroying their neighboring city, and unificationists dream of dissolving the two into one.
Hardcover, 312 pages
Published May 26th 2009 by Del Rey (first published 2009)
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Popular Answered Questions

Alan As did Lance, I will attempt to answer succinctly: No worries.

Now to elaborate.... I am currently finishing this book, and I have read three others by…more
As did Lance, I will attempt to answer succinctly: No worries.

Now to elaborate.... I am currently finishing this book, and I have read three others by China Miéville. At absolutely no time have I ever felt that Mr. Miéville's politics are slurried through his works. In fact, I had no inkling of his political identity, no reason to consider it, prior to your post.

What you can expect from Mr. Miéville's works are the representations of a phenomenally talented writer who brings fresh ideas to the Sci-Fi genre. His knack involves representing the fantastic without even nudging readers' suspensions of disbelief. Something even the great classic sci fi writers can't seem to pull off. He consistently presents brilliant moments of genre-breaking conventions, such as in this book where he depicts a detective story in a wholly original setting-dependent set of scenarios.

Not only are his books bereft of any political proselytizing, each begins anew so that even the works in his trilogy can stand alone. Please feel encouraged to proceed and enjoy.(less)

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Bill  Kerwin
Oct 11, 2011 Bill Kerwin rated it really liked it
The premise is extraordinarily interesting and meticulously developed. The question posed: what if two opposed cities existed side by side (with more than an occasional overlap) but were separated, not by an actual wall like East and West Berlin, but by the deeply enculturated habit of deliberate ignorance, a studied denial of the other, a fierce determination not to see? The central dilemma: when a murder is committed in one city, and the body is dumped in the other, how do the detectives inves ...more
Nataliya
Wow. Okay, I'm definitely fangirling for China Miéville. I love his limitless imagination, the skill to effortlessly make an unbelievable premise feel real, and ability to turn any setting and place into a true protagonist.



SOME SPOILERS MAY HAVE CREEPED IN SOMEHOW, SO BE WARNED

This is my first non-Bas Lag novel, set in the (more or less) real world. But no reason to worry - this remains as much of "weird fiction" as anything else by His Chinaness. As Miéville tries to write a novel in every genr
...more
Stephen
AN AMAZING, EARTH-SHATTERING MAKE UP SEXUAL READING EXPERIENCE!!
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6.0 stars. We all know that relationships have there ups and downs and that spats are going to happen even to the strongest of them. Well a few months ago, after having a couple of incredible years with China Mieville’s books, (i.e., Perdido Street Station and The Scar and ), both of which are among my ALL TIME FAVORITES...suddenly turmoil. The cause of the turmoil was Un Lun Dun, which I just did not like and thought was UGH-LAME-
...more
Brad
Mar 12, 2009 Brad rated it it was amazing
I see why so many people are underwhelmed by The City and The City, China Miéville's strange and wonderful homage to the mystery genre and his mother.

It is because while The City and The City is both of those things, it is also -- and more powerfully -- a love letter to his fans and an act of oeuvre snobbery of the first order.

What Miéville has done is to build a story upon his favourite themes, and to require that his audience is familiar with other occurrences of these themes in his work to fu
...more
Philip
Feb 23, 2017 Philip rated it it was amazing
5ish stars.

This is a simple, classic noir detective story. Except it's anything but a simple, classic noir detective story. The story at the heart of the novel isn't really out of the ordinary. But the way it takes place is bonkers.

The setting of the book is in two separate cities existing within the same geographical ("grosstopical") area. How is that possible? It's honestly pretty hard to figure out at first. There's very little exposition; we're thrown into this world, having it explained i
...more
Dan Schwent
Tyador Borlu of Beszel's Extreme Crime Squad is assigned to the murder case of an unknown woman. To find her killer, Borlu must go to the neighboring city of Ul Qoma and team with Qussim Dhatt of the Murder Squad. Can the two detectives from different cultures figure out who the victim is and why she was killed?

Wow. The core premise of The City & The City requires some explaining but I think I'm up to the task. Remember those perceptual illusions you were so enamored with when you were a kid
...more
Ian "Marvin" Graye
Urban Recall

I read this almost 12 months ago, which makes it difficult to recall and recount the tone of the writing.
However, I would like to make some general comments about the novel.

An Abstract High Concept Novel

In one sense, it is an abstract high concept novel.
What does this mean?
It's high concept in the sense that it takes a basic concept and explores it in detail.
And it doesn't stray very far away from that concept.
It's not "Snakes on a Plane".
It's far more abstract than that.

The C
...more
Cecily
Mieville is the sort of author I expect and want to like, but I didn't feel the love with "The Scar" (http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/...). This second foray into his works was far more rewarding, and my third, Embassytown, was even more so (there are some interesting parallels, too, which I've outlined in my review: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/...).

I enjoyed the concept, the wordplay, and the impossibility of categorisation: it's a detective story, but it's set in a world that is
...more
Lyn
May 11, 2012 Lyn rated it liked it
China Mieville is to modern fiction as The Clash was to popular music of their day: fresh, alive, vibrant, powerful, edgy, dangerous, misunderstood and by all accounts – original.

The City and The City is about as original an idea, concept, theme as I can imagine– and all put together nicely into an ostensible murder mystery. While that is the tone and structure, to me the real story was the absurdist city on top of or within, or beside or related to the other city. Or whatever.

Don’t want to ad
...more
Megan Baxter
Jun 16, 2013 Megan Baxter rated it really liked it
This book has been causing thoughts since I finished it a couple of days ago. About cities, and what we see and don't see. And how those kinds of seeing are conditioned.

And then something happened yesterday that was both funny and a little frightening, illustrating exactly how much I might be missing as I walk down the streets of my city. My husband and I were walking towards the local gaming store, towards the lures of Free RPG Day, talking. I would have thought that I was fully aware of my su
...more
Maxwell
Jan 11, 2016 Maxwell rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was such a solid read. I listened to the audiobook which was at that 10-hour sweet spot I love. And overall the story was incredibly well-crafted and engaging. The way that Mieville blends the detective/crime fiction genre with pseudo-sci-fi elements was really ingenious. It was complex and imaginative but never too hard to follow. I would highly recommend this one to people who enjoy either crime novels or sci-fi, but with a twist. He goes beyond the expectations of both genres and deliver ...more
James Thane
Feb 04, 2015 James Thane rated it really liked it
Shelves: crime-fiction
In The City & the City, China Mieville blends fantasy, sci-fi and crime fiction into one of the most interesting books I've read in a while. It's a tale of two cities set in eastern Europe. One, Beszel, is in decay; the other, Ul Qoman, is much more prosperous. The kicker is that the two cities share the same physical space and the citizens of one city are strictly forbidden from interacting with citizens of the other.

Citizens of one city are prohibited from even looking at each other or in
...more
Camille Stein
Aug 25, 2013 Camille Stein rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
the book, City and the City, by China Mieville. drawing by Warwick Mihaly.:

City & City | Panfilocastaldi - http://ow.ly/4n4gfS




Era allí, en el sombreado de intersección de líneas, donde los estudiantes podían quedarse, escandalosamente, a un palmo de distancia de una autoridad extranjera, una pornografía de separación.


...


No debe ser tarea fácil construir una arqueología tan compleja como la urdida por China Miéville. Mundos erráticos y escindidos que cohabitan una misma geografía urbana, imposible y dislocada. Desdoblamientos de paisaje, de idiomas, de seres que de
...more
Brandon
Jun 01, 2011 Brandon rated it it was ok
Ugh, I feel like such a jerk. This book has received such praise, so my expecations were pretty high. I had read more than my fair share of excellent reviews, so I felt I was in for a treat.

I really tried to like this - I really did. I thought the premise was absolutely brilliant. I just felt like it was either his prose or just the way the story itself came together that I didn't "get". I've yet to read a book that made me feel so confused.

Please don't hate me goodreaders! I tried, I really did
...more
Brad
My first reread of The City The City was an experience as convoluted as the grosstopography of Beszel and Ul Qoma. A chapter read, four chapters listened to; three chapters read, two chapters listened to; and on. Teaching this book in a town in a different province than the town I live in, across a straight, over a bridge (my adopted country's longest, the adopted country that plays such an important role in the piece, which is itself a nation sandwiched between nations in our always); a soccer ...more
Apatt
May 24, 2011 Apatt rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
You don’t have to be crazy to read this book, but it helps.

Nah, I jest. The basic idea of this book is not hard to understand, but it is a springboard to an extraordinary level of weirdness. The book is set in two cities that occupy the same geographical space. Imagine two cities existing side by side and then whisk them so that they are all jumbled up. That is one way of looking at the setting. The citizens of Besel* and Ul Qoma are not permitted to interact with the citizens, objects, or groun
...more
Greg
This book kind of makes my head hurt. Unlike the two previous novels I've read by Mieville, this one takes his outlandish and strange and doesn't put them into their own world, but into ours. Somewhere in our world there are two Cities, they are neighbors to one another and passage between them is strictly monitored and enforced. These two cities are sort of rivals and don't really like each other much, and they actually occupy pretty much the exact same geographical space as one another. The pe ...more
Catie
Jun 04, 2011 Catie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2011, fantasy
I think that this is the absolute worst choice for someone who’s never read China Mieville. Like me. All I have to say is: it’s a good thing that I have an endless store of patience and I like being confused. In audiobook terms, it took eight miles, three loads of laundry, four bathrooms, and a huge batch of vegetable korma for me to start liking this book. My interest was sparked by his creative, highly detailed world building, and my brain was completely engaged by the dozens of philosophical ...more
Whitaker
Dec 16, 2012 Whitaker rated it liked it
For all its police procedural framework, the genre The City and the City reminds me most of is Golden Age SF. This is odd because there is no science involved in this. However, The City and the City does what Golden Age SF did: it takes a "what if…" and riffs on it as far as the author can logically take it. What if … you had a planet where night only came once every thousand years ("Nightfall", Isaac Asimov), robots could be implanted with memories ("Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep", Philip ...more
Jacob
January 2009 (Before)

Don't want to sound shallow, but...that shade of blue (referring to this cover) really doesn't make me think of China Miéville. The UK editon looks much better.

(Although it does kinda grow on you, so I'll stop complaining)

---

June 2009 (First)

Obvious fact #1: China Miéville likes cities. A lot. Urban geography, borders and boundaries, the politics and character of city-states that exist on rails, on ships, beneath towering bones. Here, Miéville gives us the cities of Besźel a
...more
David Sven
Aug 28, 2012 David Sven rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, thriller, crime
One thing I'm noticing in my recent Mieville binge is that China likes his cities. They are as much a character as the protagonists of his weird imagination. They have their own unique personalities, differing from book to book whether we're talking about dark and dirty New Crobuzon in Perdido Street Station or the pirate city, Armada in The Scar or Embassytown on an alien planet in Embassytown. In The City & the City we are treated to not one but two cities - or maybe it's one city with mul ...more
Ademption
First off, China Mieville is very brainy and gives good vocabulary. I can see why Ceridwen is dating him as a literary boyfriend.

The plot revolves around a detective investigating a murder in a city shared by two distinct nations. One society, Ul-Ooma, seems to be Turkish, Middle Eastern, Chinese, or North African. The other society, Besel, seems gray, depressive, and borrows words that are vaguely slavic. So, maybe Besel is council estate England and Bulgaria.

The two cultures share exactly the
...more
Chris
Aug 24, 2009 Chris rated it really liked it
6/25/2016 - Reread for UC Book Club June 2016 selection.

For me the brilliance of this book isn't the plot or the characters, many of whom are types and trophes. It is the idea of two cities in the same place, because it is in many ways so true. Most cities have at least two faces. In this book, the face has two cities.

Mieville also seems to be drawing the Watch series (ie Night Watch) with a concept, but that also seems to be a debate about justice.

It is interesting to re-read this during the w
...more
Sarah Anne
This was my third time reading this and I'm amazed at how much I loved it again. It is such a cool book. It's like a crime novel mixed with sci-fi/fantasy/alt-history or whatever you want to call it elements. I've fallen out on the sci-fi side the prior two times but this time around I can see that it fits magical realism. Or urban fantasy. Really, it can kind of fit in quite a few subgenres.

When a body is discovered Inspector Tyador Borlu is the detective assigned to investigate the crime. Shor
...more
Ian "Marvin" Graye
Urban Recall

I read this almost 12 months ago, which makes it difficult to recall and recount the tone of the writing.
However, I would like to make some general comments about the novel.

An Abstract High Concept Novel

In one sense, it is an abstract high concept novel.
What does this mean?
It's high concept in the sense that it takes a basic concept and explores it in detail.
And it doesn't stray very far away from that concept.
It's not "Snakes on a Plane".
It's far more abstract than that.

The C
...more
Lit Bug
May 15, 2013 Lit Bug rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned, sf-fantasy
4.5/5 stars

China Mieville is not Orwellian, as reviewers say – he is the new Orwell – or what Orwell would have been had he been writing today. This urban fantasy novel walks a tight-rope between literature and popular-fiction. A fuzzy place where it belongs to literature, and to popular-fiction too, yet it is a part of both and neither – just like his two cities, or rather, three cities. Beszel, the first city, Ul Qoma, the second city and the fuzzy place in between – Orciny – the third city –
...more
Michael
Aug 09, 2012 Michael rated it it was amazing
So glad this one reeled me in and threw me up on the bank all spinning with dizzy pleasure. I was headed for disappointment 100 pages in. The fantasy of the setting was intriguing at first: two cities of distinct cultures in some fictional Near East country coexisting in the same place in pieces and patches with their residents trained to “unsee” each other and forbidden to interact. But I started to get a headache with its impossibilities. Was this just some intellectual game?

Yet leave it to b
...more
Faith
Nov 10, 2016 Faith rated it really liked it
Shelves: audio, overdrive
This book is an intriguing police procedural with an insane sci fi/urban fantasy premise, and I mean that in a good way. Two cities occupy the same space and their respective citizens studiously ignore (unsee) each other. They don't even speak the same language. There is Breach, an elite force that punishes unauthorized travel between the cities or intentional contact between citizens. When the body of a murdered young woman is dumped in one of the cities, the police of both cities must cooperat ...more
Marko Radosavljevic
Ne očekivavši ništa, dobio sam dosta... Odlična radnja sa još boljom pozadinskom pričom... Uživao sam
Paul
Jul 17, 2013 Paul rated it it was amazing
Shelves: crime
My first China Mieville and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It does not easily lend itself to straightforward analysis. Mieville has said he wants to write in every genre and this one is very solidly a detective novel, with a good slice of Chandleresque noir. Yet, of course it is also much more; there is a strangeness to it which lends an air otherness which is not really science fiction or fantasy; but it works.
The action takes place somewhere in the east of Europe in the cities of Beszal and Ul Qoma
...more
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A British "fantastic fiction" writer. He is fond of describing his work as "weird fiction" (after early 20th century pulp and horror writers such as H. P. Lovecraft), and belongs to a loose group of writers sometimes called New Weird who consciously attempt to move fantasy away from commercial, genre clichés of Tolkien epigons. He is also active in left-wing politics as a member of the Socialist W ...more
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“Books are always obviously having conversations with other books, and some times they're amiable and sometimes not.” 1263 likes
“Is it more childish and foolish to insist that there is a conspiracy or that there is not?” 17 likes
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