Kent McDaniel's Reviews > The City & the City

The City & the City by China Miéville
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's review
Apr 07, 2011

liked it
Read in April, 2011

The book combines surreal fantasy with hard-boiled noir, and pretty much pulls it off, which is probably why it tied for a Hugo last year.
The premise is that two cities, Beszel and Ul Qoma, possibly from parallel universes, share the same space, and at places interesect. It's surreal, though: they both are part of our world, and part of what keeps them separate is the active "unseeing" of each other practiced by the citizens of both cities, both of which are independent city states. Interaction between the two cities' inhabitants is strictly forbidden. A murder, however, has happened across the the two cities, and inspector Tyador Borlu gets stuck with investigating it. The premise is interesting, though not as clearly portrayed as you could hope. The explanation of it unfortunately takes the form of large expository lumps here and there, and required a significant amount of willing-suspension-of-disbelief. On the other hand, the cities are vividly portrayed, the characters are-well-developed, and the plot rocks, when its not slowed by all the exposition. I enjoyed it, and I thinks it's impressive that Meiville could pull off the fusion of surrealism and noir to the extent that he did.

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