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The City & The City

3.92  ·  Rating details ·  48,159 ratings  ·  5,412 reviews
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. But as he investigates, the evidence points to conspiracies far stranger and more deadly than anything he could have imagined.

Borlú must travel from the decaying Beszel to the only metropolis on Earth as
Paperback, 373 pages
Published May 6th 2011 by Pan Books (first published May 26th 2009)
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Average rating 3.92  · 
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 ·  48,159 ratings  ·  5,412 reviews

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Bill Kerwin
Oct 11, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

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
Glenn Russell

Wow! Make that Double Wow!

Unsurpassed imagination and invention. All within the context of detective novel that's a turbocharged page-turner.

The cityscape China Miéville creates here is neither Kafka absurdist nor Dali surreal, his novel’s two cities are every bit as substantial and realistic as Jo Nesbø’s Oslo or Tana French's Dublin or Stieg Larsson’s Stockholm – and it’s this grounding in realism that makes Miéville's weird elements all the weirder.

I completely agree with Stephen King who
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.


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
J.L.   Sutton
Apr 05, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What at first simply seems interesting (the overlapping geographical space of the two distinct cities of Beszel and Ul Qoma) by turns becomes an absorbing part of the mystery in China Mieville's The City & the City. As Extreme Crime Squad Inspector Borlu investigates the death of archaeology student, Mahalia Geary, it quickly becomes clear that so much more is going on than just a murder. Mieville's novel combines 'weird fiction' (the genre with which Mieville is associated) with the police ...more
O Happy Fault

I have never underestimated China Mieville’s writing talent. But until recently I also hadn’t realized the depths of his thought. The City & the City is not merely a cleverly structured detective novel, it is also a rather profound anthropological analysis.

The premise of the book is that the City in question is divided in two by a sort of psychological Iron Curtain, sometimes at the level of individual dwellings. The two parts of the City intertwine physically, but the residents
Apr 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Full on ! This book is special. It's my first encounter with China Mieville and I'm very intrigued to read more. What a mind bending story. The 2 city concept is so challenging & fantastic, not just a great idea but something very hard to really grasp in detail.

The language is brilliant and fits perfectly in creating this noir detective story feel, the way the story is told, unfolding it layer by layer without ever being presented with a final truth and creating an atmosphere of strangeness

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
Can a city have a personality? I think so. Certainly the feel of Los Angeles is entirely different from NYC, and different again from Chicago, right? But what are the components to a city's character? Despite being the centerpiece of the novel, The City and the City never came alive for me. Half the time I felt as if I was reading a dusty encyclopedia description of a city and half the time an oddly paced but elaborate mystery.

The story begins typical for the detective-mystery genre: we follow
4.5ish 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 am throwing the towel at 35%. As per my 50% rule i will not rate the novel. However, I will share my motive for quitting. The writing was too difficult. I thought is was only because my English is not my first language (although i don't usually have problems) but i read complains by native speakers so... The struggle to understand what the author was trying to say, the weird choice of words and phrase construction made me detached from the plot and the characters. I did not care about anything ...more
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
"There's a series of random and implausible crises that make no sense other than if you believe the most dramatic possible shit. And there's a dead girl."
That quote from a character in the book, sums this up very well.

I enjoyed the concept, the wordplay, and the impossibility of categorisation: it's a detective story, with strong political themes, but it's set in a world that is not exactly dystopian or futuristic or fantastic - but it isn't quite realistic either.

The Cities

The title relates to
May 11, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
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.

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
May 24, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
James Thane
Feb 04, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Paul Sánchez Keighley
There was a time I hung out with Sudanese asylum seekers in Tel Aviv. Their status as refugees was never officialised, so they lived in a sort of legal limbo. Whenever we’d go for a walk, even if we were ambling down familiar streets, it felt like we were in a different city altogether. We’d turn into alleys I’d never noticed and find Eritrean families huddled around coffee pots on small fires; walk into previously unseen shebeens that stood quite literally between shops I’d frequent on a ...more
Ms. Smartarse
The victim of a gruesome murder has been found at the outskirts of the city of Beszel. A random woman dumped in a trash heap, doesn't appear to be more than the outcome of a sex-trade gone bad. However, when inspector Tyador Borlú receives an anonymous tip, pointing fingers at the neighboring city of Ul Quoma, things start to get awfully messy.

You see, while jurisdiction between most neighboring cities may simply lead to petty police squabbles, Beszel and Ul Quoma actually make up two separate
Megan Baxter
Jun 16, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
More like 4 and a half.

If there is one thing you can expect from China Mieville, is that his stories are pretty much impossible to summarize or classify. “The City & The City” is an amazing and mind-bending blend of P.I. noir and surrealist weird fiction. It starts off is a straightforward enough way: a foreign student is brutally murdered and disfigured, and detective Tyador Borlu, of the Beszel Extreme Crime Squad is assigned the case. Things become complicated when he must team up with a
Jan 11, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: i-own-it, audiobook, 2016
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 ...more
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
Apr 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This has got to be one of the most interesting conceits for a novel I've ever read. A city that's divided not so much physically as mentally. As in: you're not supposed to notice people from the "other" city, even if they're right across the street, and people are so thoroughly trained in this not-seeing that seeing itself has become the ultimate taboo. If that sounds mind-blowing, it's because it is. Layer on top of that a murder mystery, and you have the makings of a terrific and incredibly ...more
Jun 04, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, read-in-2011
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
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 ...more
Apr 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to David by: Lemar
Shelves: mystery, fantasy
What a fun book! I love novels that are totally unpredictable. It seems like I enjoy half of the novels I've read by China Miéville, and the other half I dislike. This is one of those that I like. And each of Miéville's novels is totally different. You cannot judge his writing from just a single book.

This novel is NOT science fiction--it seemingly takes place in the present day, and the available technology is no different than that available to us, today. Most of the world, too, is just as 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
Manuel Antão
Sep 01, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014
If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.

The City and The City was my first Miéville book to make it to my TBR pile, but I’ve got Bad News. It’ll be awhile until my TBR stack will see another Miéville…

I’ve found it wanting, mostly. It seemed like an ambitious exercise that was poorly executed. For the most part, it’s a withered novel, and the story suffers as a result. There’s not a lot of world-building, and in an existential and fictionalized world, it takes away from the
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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 ...more
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