NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY THE LOS ANGELES TIMES, THE SEATTLE TIMES, AND PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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.
BONUS: This edition contains a The City & The City discussion guide and excerpts from China Miéville's Kraken and Embassytown.
Better known for New Weird fantasies (Perdido Street Station, etc.), bestseller Mi ville offers an outstanding take on police procedurals with this barely speculative novel. Twin southern European cities Beszel and Ul Qoma coexist in the same physical location, separated by their citizens' determination to see only one city at a time. Inspector Tyador Borl of the Extreme Crime Squad roams through the intertwined but separate cultures as he investigates the murder of Mahalia Geary, who believed that a third city, Orciny, hides in the blind spots between Beszel and Ul Qoma. As Mahalia's friends disappear and revolution brews, Tyador is forced to consider the idea that someone in unseen Orciny is manipulating the other cities. Through this exaggerated metaphor of segregation, Mi ville skillfully examines the illusions people embrace to preserve their preferred social realities.
The City & The City
This was a very fun page-turner sci-fi novel with moments of intellectual depth and a very original storyline that really inhibits any detailed discussion without giving away a lot of the story. It's a sci-fi novel but as with most thoughtful fiction it gives the reader a lot to think about with regard to our society and politics today.
I'm knocking it down one star because by the end I felt that a lot of the challenging presentation of the novel (i.e. making the reader think and figure out the plot) turned into Mieville hand-holding and explaining a bit too much. There's a learning curve, a detective phase where one must piece together what weird world the author has constructed, and once you get it it's awesome -- but after all that effort Mieville starts to over explain the way the sci-fi world works.
In the end: a great read and original, thoughtful story development that will lend itself to rich discussion with any other fellow readers.
Loved that this got me so far away from chick-lit book club selections with plot points like regret, miscommunication, and romance. No, this is so much more complex and so much more interesting. A sci-fi murder-mystery with a hefty dose of archeology as set perhaps behibd the iron curtain. Dense, and not the quickest read, but just wonderful.