The City & The City: A online sale Novel (Random House 2021 Reader's Circle) outlet online sale

The City & The City: A online sale Novel (Random House 2021 Reader's Circle) outlet online sale

The City & The City: A online sale Novel (Random House 2021 Reader's Circle) outlet online sale
The City & The City: A online sale Novel (Random House 2021 Reader's Circle) outlet online sale_top

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Description

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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.

Review

“Daring and disturbing . . . Miéville illuminates fundamental and unsettling questions about culture, governance and the shadowy differences that keep us apart.”—Walter Mosley, author of Devil in a Blue Dress

"Lots of books dabble in several genres but few manage to weld them together as seamlessly and as originally as The City and The City. In a tale set in a series of cities vertiginously layered in the same space, Miéville offers the detective novel re-envisioned through the prism of the fantastic. The result is a stunning piece of artistry that has both all the satisfactions of a good mystery and all the delight and wonder of the best fantasy.”—Brian Evenson, author of Last Days

“If Philip K. Dick and Raymond Chandler''s love child were raised by Franz Kafka, the writing that emerged might resemble China Mieville''s new novel, The City & the City." — Los Angeles Times

“China Mieville has made his name via award-winning, genre-bending titles such as King Rat, Perdido Street Station, The Scar and Iron Council. Now, in The City & the City, he sets out to bend yet another genre, that of the police procedural, and he succeeds brilliantly…. [An] extraordinary, wholly engaging read.” — St. Petersburg Times

“An eye-opening genre-buster. The names of Kafka and Orwell tend to be invoked too easily for anything a bit out of the ordinary, but in this case they are worthy comparisons.” — The Times, London

“Evoking such writers as Franz Kafka and Mikhail Bulgakov, Mr. Miéville asks readers to make conceptual leaps and not to simply take flights of fancy.”— Wall Street Journal

“An outstanding take on police procedurals…. Through this exaggerated metaphor of segregation, Miéville skillfully examines the illusions people embrace to preserve their preferred social realities.” — Publishers Weekly, starred review

“An excellent police procedural and a fascinating urban fantasy, this is essential reading for all mystery and fantasy fans.”— Booklist, starred review

“This spectacularly, intricately paranoid yarn is worth the effort.” — Kirkus, starred review

About the Author

China Miéville is the author of King Rat; Perdido Street Station, winner of the Arthur C. Clarke Award and the British Fantasy Award; The Scar , winner of the Locus Award and the British Fantasy Award; Iron Council, winner of the Locus Award and the Arthur C. Clarke Award; Looking for Jake, a collection of short stories; and Un Lun Dun, his New York Times bestselling book for younger readers. He lives and works in London.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Chapter One


I could not see the street or much of the estate. We were enclosed by dirt-coloured blocks, from windows out of which leaned vested men and women with morning hair and mugs of drink, eating breakfast and watching us. This open ground between the buildings had once been sculpted. It pitched like a golf course—a child’ s mimicking of geography. Maybe they had been going to wood it and put in a pond. There was a copse but the saplings were dead.

The grass was weedy, threaded with paths footwalked between rubbish, rutted by wheel tracks. There were police at various tasks. I wasn’t the first detective there—I saw Bardo Naustin and a couple of others— but I was the most senior. I followed the sergeant to where most of my colleagues clustered, between a low derelict tower and a skateboard park ringed by big drum-shaped trash bins. Just beyond it we could hear the docks. A bunch of kids sat on a wall before standing officers. The gulls coiled over the gathering.

“Inspector.” I nodded at whomever that was. Someone offered a coffee but I shook my head and looked at the woman I had come to see.

She lay near the skate ramps. Nothing is still like the dead are still. The wind moves their hair, as it moved hers, and they don’t respond at all. She was in an ugly pose, with legs crooked as if about to get up, her arms in a strange bend. Her face was to the ground.

A young woman, brown hair pulled into pigtails poking up like plants. She was almost naked, and it was sad to see her skin smooth that cold morning, unbroken by gooseflesh. She wore only laddered stockings, one high heel on. Seeing me look for it, a sergeant waved at me from a way off, from where she guarded the dropped shoe.

It was a couple of hours since the body had been discovered. I looked her over. I held my breath and bent down toward the dirt, to look at her face, but I could only see one open eye.

“Where’s Shukman?”

“Not here yet, Inspector…”

“Someone call him, tell him to get a move on.” I smacked my watch. I was in charge of what we called the mise-en-crime. No one would move her until Shukman the patho had come, but there were other things to do. I checked sightlines. We were out of the way and the garbage containers obscured us, but I could feel attention on us like insects, from all over the estate. We milled.

There was a wet mattress on its edge between two of the bins, by a spread of rusting iron pieces interwoven with discarded chains. “That was on her.” The constable who spoke was Lizbyet Corwi, a smart young woman I’d worked with a couple of times. “Couldn’ t exactly say she was well hidden, but it sort of made her look like a pile of rubbish, I guess.” I could see a rough rectangle of darker earth surrounding the dead woman—the remains of the ?mattress-?sheltered dew. Naustin was squatting by it, staring at the earth.

“The kids who found her tipped it half off,” Corwi said.

“How did they find her?”

Corwi pointed at the earth, at little scuffs of animal paws.

“Stopped her getting mauled. Ran like hell when they saw what it was, made the call. Our lot, when they arrived?.?.?.?” She glanced at two patrolmen I ?didn’t know.

“They moved it?”

She nodded. “See if she was still alive, they said.”

“What are their names?”

“Shushkil and Briamiv.”

“And these are the finders?” I nodded at the guarded kids. There were two girls, two guys. Midteens, cold, looking down.

“Yeah. Chewers.”

“Early morning pick-you-up?”

“That’s dedication, hm?” she said. “Maybe they’re up for junkies of the month or some shit. They got here a bit before seven. The skate pit’s organised that way, apparently. It’s only been built a couple of years, used to be nothing, but the locals’ve got their shift patterns down. Midnight to nine a.m., chewers only; nine to eleven, local gang plans the day; eleven to midnight, skateboards and rollerblades.”

“They carrying?”

“One of the boys has a little shiv, but really little. Couldn’t mug a milkrat with it—it’s a toy. And a chew each. That’ s it.” She shrugged. “The dope wasn’t on them; we found it by the wall, but”— shrug—“they were the only ones around.”

She motioned over one of our colleagues and opened the bag he carried. Little bundles of resin-slathered grass. Feld is its street name—a tough crossbreed of Catha edulis spiked with tobacco and caffeine and stronger stuff, and fibreglass threads or similar to abrade the gums and get it into the blood. Its name is a trilingual pun: it’s khat where it’s grown, and the animal called “cat” in En- glish is feld in our own language. I sniffed it and it was pretty low-grade stuff. I walked over to where the four teenagers shivered in their puffy jackets.

“’Sup, policeman?” said one boy in a Bes-accented approximation of hip-hop English. He looked up and met my eye, but he was pale. Neither he nor any of his companions looked well. From where they sat they could not have seen the dead woman, but they did not even look in her direction.

They must have known we’d find the feld, and that we’d know it was theirs. They could have said nothing, just run.

“I’m Inspector Borlú,” I said. “Extreme Crime Squad.”

I did not say I’m Tyador. A difficult age to question, this—too old for first names, euphemisms and toys, not yet old enough to be straightforward opponents in interviews, when at least the rules were clear. “What’s your name?” The boy hesitated, considered using whatever slang handle he’ d granted himself, did not.

“Vilyem Barichi.”

“You found her?” He nodded, and his friends nodded after him. “Tell me.”

“We come here because, ’cause, and…” Vilyem waited, but I said nothing about his drugs. He looked down. “And we seen something under that mattress and we pulled it off.”

“There was some…” His friends looked up as Vilyem hesitated, obviously superstitious.

“Wolves?” I said. They glanced at each other.

“Yeah man, some scabby little pack was nosing around there and…”

“So we thought it…”

“How long after you got here?” I said.

Vilyem shrugged. “Don’ t know. Couple hours?”

“Anyone else around?”

“Saw some guys over there a while back.”

“Dealers?” A shrug.

“And there was a van came up on the grass and come over here and went off again after a bit. We ?didn’t speak to no one.”

“When was the van?”

“Don’t know.”

“It was still dark.” That was one of the girls.

“Okay. Vilyem, you guys, we’re going to get you some breakfast, something to drink, if you want.” I motioned to their guards. “Have we spoken to the parents?” I asked.

“On their way, boss; except hers”—pointing to one of the girls—“we can’t reach.”

“So keep trying. Get them to the centre now.”

The four teens looked at each other. “This is bullshit, man,” the boy who was not Vilyem said, uncertainly. He knew that according to some politics he should oppose my instruction, but he wanted to go with my subordinate. Black tea and bread and paperwork, the boredom and striplights, all so much not like the peeling back of that wet heavy, cumbersome mattress, in the yard, in the dark.

Stepen Shukman and his assistant Hamd Hamzinic had arrived. I looked at my watch. Shukman ignored me. When he bent to the body he wheezed. He certified death. He made observations that Hamzinic wrote down.

“Time?” I said.

“Twelve hours-ish,” Shukman said. He pressed down on one of the woman’s limbs. She rocked. In rigor, and unstable on the ground as she was, she probably assumed the position of her death lying on other contours. “She ?wasn’t killed here.” I had heard it said many times he was good at his job but had seen no evidence that he was anything but competent.

“Done?” he said to one of the scene techs. She took two more shots from different angles and nodded. Shukman rolled the woman over with Hamzinic’s help. She seemed to fight him with her cramped motionlessness. Turned, she was absurd, like someone playing at dead insect, her limbs crooked, rocking on her spine.

She looked up at us from below a fluttering fringe. Her face was set in a startled strain: she was endlessly surprised by herself. She was young. She was heavily made up, and it was smeared across a badly battered face. It was impossible to say what she looked like, what face those who knew her would see if they heard her name. We might know better later, when she relaxed into her death. Blood marked her front, dark as dirt. Flash flash of cameras.

“Well, hello cause of death,” Shukman said to the wounds in her chest.

On her left cheek, curving under the jaw, a long red split. She had been cut half the length of her face.

The wound was smooth for several centimetres, tracking precisely along her flesh like the sweep of a paintbrush. Where it went below her jaw, under the overhang of her mouth, it jagged ugly and ended or began with a deep torn hole in the soft tissue behind her bone. She looked unseeingly at me.

“Take some without the flash, too,” I said.

Like several others I looked away while Shukman murmured—it felt prurient to watch. Uniformed mise-en-crime technical investigators, mectecs in our slang, searched in an expanding circle. They overturned rubbish and foraged among the grooves where vehicles had driven. They lay down reference marks, and photographed.

“Alright then.” Shukman rose. “Let’s get her out of here.” A couple of the men hauled her onto a stretcher.

“Jesus Christ,” I said, “cover her.” Someone found a blanket I don’t know from where, and they started again towards Shukman’s vehicle.

“I’ll get going this afternoon,” he said. “Will I see you?” I wagged my head noncommittally. I walked towards Corwi.

“Naustin,” I called, when I was positioned so that Corwi would be at the edge of our conversation. She glanced up and came slightly closer.

“Inspector,” said Naustin.

“Go through it.”

He sipped his coffee and looked at me nervously.

“Hooker?” he said. “First impressions, Inspector. This area,

beat-?up, naked? And…” He pointed at his face, her exaggerated makeup. “Hooker.”

“Fight with a client?”

“Yeah but…If it was just the body wounds, you know, you’d, then you’re looking at, maybe she won’t do what he wants, whatever. He lashes out. But this.” He touched his cheek again uneasily. “That’s different.”

“A sicko?”

He shrugged. “Maybe. He cuts her, kills her, dumps her. Cocky bastard too, doesn’t give a shit that we’re going to find her.”

“Cocky or stupid.”

“Or cocky and stupid.”

“So a cocky, stupid sadist,” I said. He raised his eyes, Maybe.

“Alright,” I said. “Could be. Do the rounds of the local girls. Ask a uniform who knows the area. Ask if they’ ve had trouble with anyone recently. Let’s get a photo circulated, put a name to Fulana Detail.” I used the generic name for woman-unknown. “First off I want you to question Barichi and his mates, there. Be nice, Bardo, they ?didn’t have to call this in. I mean that. And get Yaszek in with you.” Ramira Yaszek was an excellent questioner. “Call me this afternoon?” When he was out of earshot I said to Corwi, “A few years ago we’d not have had half as many guys on the murder of a working girl.”

“We’ve come a long way,” she said. She wasn’t much older than the dead woman.

“I doubt Naustin’s delighted to be on streetwalker duty, but you’ll notice he’s not complaining,” I said.

“We’ve come a long way,” she said.

“So?” I raised an eyebrow. Glanced in Naustin’s direction. I waited. I remembered Corwi’s work on the Shulban disappearance, a case considerably more Byzantine than it had initially appeared.

“It’s just, I guess, you know, we should keep in mind other possibilities,” she said.

“Tell me.”

“Her makeup,” she said. “It’s all, you know, earths and browns. It’s been put on thick, but it’s not—” She vamp-pouted. “And did you notice her hair?” I had. “Not dyed. Take a drive with me up GunterStrász, around by the arena, any of the girls’ hangouts. Two-thirds blonde, I reckon. And the rest are black or bloodred or some shit. And…” She fingered the air as if it were hair. “It’s dirty, but it’ s a lot better than mine.” She ran her hand through her own split ends.

For many of the streetwalkers in Bes´zel, especially in areas like this, food and clothes for their kids came first; feld or crack for themselves; food for themselves; then sundries, in which list conditioner would come low. I glanced at the rest of the officers, at Naustin gathering himself to go.

“Okay,” I said. “Do you know this area?”

“Well,” she said, “it’s a bit off the track, you know? This is hardly even Bes´zel, really. My beat’s Lestov. They called a few of us in when they got the bell. But I did a tour here a couple years ago—I know it a bit.”

Lestov itself was already almost a suburb, six or so k out of the city centre, and we were south of that, over the Yovic Bridge on a bit of land between Bulkya Sound and, nearly, the mouth where the river joined the sea. Technically an island, though so close and conjoined to the mainland by ruins of industry you would never think of it as such, Kordvenna was estates, warehouses, low-rent bodegas scribble-linked by endless graffiti. It was far enough from Bes ´zel’s heart that it was easy to forget, unlike more inner-city slums.

“How long were you here?” I said.

“Six months, standard. What you’d expect: street theft, high kids smacking shit out of each other, drugs, hooking.”

“Murder?”

“Two or three in my time. Drugs stuff. Mostly stops short of that, though: the gangs are pretty smart at punishing each other without bringing in ECS.”

“Someone’s fucked up then.”

“Yeah. Or doesn’t care.”

“Okay,” I said. “I want you on this. What are you doing at the moment?”

“Nothing that can’t wait.”

“I want you to relocate for a bit. Got any contacts here still?” She pursed her lips. “Track them down if you can; if not, have a word with some of the local guys, see who their singers are. I want you on the ground. Listen out, go round the estate—what’s this place called again?”

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4.3 out of 54.3 out of 5
1,260 global ratings

Top reviews from the United States

mrthinkndrink
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Kind of challenging, kind of not
Reviewed in the United States on November 4, 2018
Mieville''s writing, whether in an attempt to align with the "language" of his protagonist or to suggest a differing syntax in the fictional setting of the story, is somewhat herky-jerky ... gangly, you might say. The story follows many of the norms of a police procedural... See more
Mieville''s writing, whether in an attempt to align with the "language" of his protagonist or to suggest a differing syntax in the fictional setting of the story, is somewhat herky-jerky ... gangly, you might say. The story follows many of the norms of a police procedural but is set in one-inside-the-other cities that occupy the same geography yet contain two distinct cultures, each forbidden to interact with or even see the other. Trained from birth in the acts of "unseeing" and "unhearing" with compliance enforced by a nearly absolute power referred to as Breach, the book certainly could have been a more vigorous examination of our willingness to adhere to imposed -- and absurd -- societal and/or religious convention. While the implications are unavoidable, the story still wraps up with a rather conventionally-satisfying ending. The book is thought provoking, though more in terms of understanding the uniqueness of the setting rather than in exploring the foibles of power and adherence.
10 people found this helpful
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Morganne Walker
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
But in the best way possible
Reviewed in the United States on January 28, 2016
I first found out about this book after listening to a lecture hosted by Keith Mitnick (Taubman College). He introduced the topic by discussing the general theme of this book and the idea of "seeing and unseeing" as a means of understanding space as well as... See more
I first found out about this book after listening to a lecture hosted by Keith Mitnick (Taubman College). He introduced the topic by discussing the general theme of this book and the idea of "seeing and unseeing" as a means of understanding space as well as neighboring architectural forms from different eras or topologies. Just from his description of the book''s premise, I knew I wanted to read it.

To start, this book is BONKERS. But in the best way possible. Admittedly, I found the beginning to be tough to get through simply because Mieville''s writing is something I wasn''t used to reading; at times it feels very sporadic and seems to "jump around" a lot without much exposition, but after a while I realized that I actually enjoy it that way, things seem more "fast-paced" which fits well with the story itself. It gets really interesting once he starts to describe "Breach" and the way the characters "unsee" the neighboring city. [MILD SPOILER] these details don''t get "explained" until some chapters into the book, but I felt that this helped set the tone earlier on by making the character''s actions that more intriguing; I kept reading because I wanted to better understand their strange behaviors and "see" the picture that Mieville was creating.

I love the concept (I haven''t seen or read other stories like it), and the characters are believable and entertaining. If anyone has other suggestions for books like this please let me know, but in the meantime I would recommend this to anyone interested in more speculative fiction.
36 people found this helpful
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S. H. Wells
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
A Murder-Mystery in Truly Novel Cities
Reviewed in the United States on August 7, 2018
After finishing Mieville''s "The Kraken," I wanted to read something else by an author who is quickly becoming one of my favorites. A friend recommended "The City & The City" and I was not disappointed. "The City & The City" is, at it''s heart, a gumshoe murder... See more
After finishing Mieville''s "The Kraken," I wanted to read something else by an author who is quickly becoming one of my favorites. A friend recommended "The City & The City" and I was not disappointed.

"The City & The City" is, at it''s heart, a gumshoe murder mystery that takes place in the most incredible place on earth. The cities of Beszel and Ul Qoma share "grosstopically" a similar space. That is to say, the streets of the two cities run together, but due to quirks of history and international politics, the streets are in two separate and somewhat antagonistic countries.

Mieville''s cities remind me of the two Berlins during the cold war but instead of in linguistically homogeneous Germany, they are located in architecturally and linguistically diverse Balkans. The cities residents'' most curious practice is that of "unseeing" people and events that transpire in the neighboring country (even if "grosstopically" it may only be a few feet away).

The cities separateness is enforced by a powerful and rather mysterious organization called Breach. In true Cold War fashion, citizens who violate the separateness of the cities by crossing subtle boundaries sometimes simply disappear.

Enter the case of a Jane Doe, murdered in one city and disposed of in the other. The politics and particulars of the place make the detective work Mieville''s characters have to perform simply fascinating. The novel explores being in a political versus geographic space.

There was enough mystery and intrigue to keep me turning the pages and continually guessing "who done it"! I''d recommend the novel to any who enjoys a murder-mystery with a new twist.
6 people found this helpful
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R. Turner
3.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Just ok
Reviewed in the United States on October 4, 2017
I guess I was expecting a lot more from this book. It wasn''t bad but as not exciting until almost the end. I can see how a lot of people would give up or be bored by this book though. There are a lot of descriptions of the cities and of the people from each one. I think... See more
I guess I was expecting a lot more from this book. It wasn''t bad but as not exciting until almost the end. I can see how a lot of people would give up or be bored by this book though. There are a lot of descriptions of the cities and of the people from each one. I think though he had to do that or I don''t think anyone would really be able to understand how a city can be in a city and the people who live there can tell the difference between the two. Anyways it was a very interesting premise but the story just wasn''t fast paced or interesting enough for me. I think it could have been better. For a type of detective novel with a bit of a weirdness of the city thrown in it was just ok. I think it may have been better if the third place. existed and there was a more hinting story there.
7 people found this helpful
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Sy
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
not what I expected, but in a good way
Reviewed in the United States on July 15, 2019
I kept hearing that China Miéville was a difficult, love it or hate it author, with a pompous and wordy prose, so I steered well clear of his books for the longest time. But the description of this book sounded really interesting, so I downloaded a free sample and it had... See more
I kept hearing that China Miéville was a difficult, love it or hate it author, with a pompous and wordy prose, so I steered well clear of his books for the longest time. But the description of this book sounded really interesting, so I downloaded a free sample and it had none of the characteristics I expected, in fact, if anything it sounded a little boring, so for another year or so I didn''t follow up on it. I finally pulled the trigger and bought the darn book and boy am I glad I did! I really really enjoyed it, and if I was busy with something and wasn''t reading it, I would be thinking about how much I wish I was reading it.

The story is original and fascinating: 2 city states somewhere in the general Black Sea location (they are invented after all) that occupy the same space, but really don''t get along with each other. When I say they occupy the same space, it is meant literally: you may have a street in which some buildings are in one city and some are in the other. Or one side of the street is in one city and the other is in the other city, and so forth.
The way the 2 cities maintain their identity is by educating their people to ignore anything that happens or belongs to the other city. Citizens of the 2 cities walking in the same street must not under any circumstance talk or interact with each other in any way. This is enforced by an agency called Breach, and those who are caught breaking this rule disappear and are never seen again.
In the middle of all this takes place what starts as a pretty mundane homicide investigation, which eventually leads down conspiracy theories, politics, fringe groups, and Breach itself.
The one and only complaint I have, which cost the book 1 star, is that I found the ending a little underwhelming.

Pros and cons:
The prose is perfectly legible, even for a non native English speaker like me.
The prose is tight and well paced and never bogged down with wordy descriptive passages.
The setting for the story is fascinating and well developed.
The story is rich and engaging and explores several interesting avenues.
The ending is a little underwhelming.
The characters aren''t very well developed (I realized after reading the book I don''t even know what the protagonist supposedly looks like, other than being male).
Political commentary is kept to a minimum and not preachy (I am absolutely and completely sick and tired of authors that use their books to bash you over the head with their political views. I have enough of politics in real life, I don''t want to have them shoved down my throat when I want to relax and enjoy myself).

This book was such a surprise and a reversal of my, I guess I can call it prejudice, against China Miéville, that I will most definitely read more books by this author. I already have my eye on Embassytown.
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Jason Galbraith
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
This fiction is the weirdest.
Reviewed in the United States on December 11, 2020
Wikipedia calls "The City and the City" a cross between "weird fiction and the police procedural." The premise is over-the-top weird all right. This is the weirdest book I have read at least since "The Return of Merlin" by Deepak Chopra, which I think I read about 14... See more
Wikipedia calls "The City and the City" a cross between "weird fiction and the police procedural." The premise is over-the-top weird all right. This is the weirdest book I have read at least since "The Return of Merlin" by Deepak Chopra, which I think I read about 14 years ago, before I regularly reviewed books on Amazon. In fact, I am compelled to deduct a star because the premise, of two East European cities cheek-by-jowl where for a citizen of one city to even see what is in the other city is so far beyond criminal that it''s actually considered a form of mental illness, is so outlandish. It should have been a strange planet discovered by the U. S. S. Enterprise in the twenty-fourth century, not a tiny sliver of contemporary Europe.

Once you get past that conceit, however, "The City and the City" is a pretty entertaining book. The cops are likable, the victims are intriguing and the killers are not the ones you expected. Everyone lives in fear of Breach, so naturally we have to discover in the last third of the book that Breach are people too. (Or does my saying this give too much away?) You discover you care about these people who are forced to live (or in some cases die) by some very silly rules. I''m glad I didn''t see the BBC adaptation because in that one it turns out Orciny is the afterlife. I won''t give away exactly what Orciny is in the book itself. I want you to read it. Four stars.
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Penelope K. Lockhart
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
A Brain-Twister of a Book
Reviewed in the United States on July 19, 2021
I really enjoyed this book and the 4-part series made from it. I watched the first two episode of the BritBox 4 part series of the book before reading it. Trying to make sense of the plot and the idea of two cities in one city was challenging. Once I began... See more
I really enjoyed this book and the 4-part series made from it.

I watched the first two episode of the BritBox 4 part series of the book before reading it. Trying to make sense of the plot and the idea of two cities in one city was challenging. Once I began reading the book, the film series became clearer, although the filmed version added a plot line that did not exist in the book.

This book is not for everyone. It is science fiction but set in Eastern Europe somewhere in the present.
I originally thought of it as Schrodinger''s Cat on film - but a friend with more knowledge of quantum physics suggested Heisenberg''s Uncertainty Principle was more applicable.
Nevertheless, each of the 4 parts of the film series reflects the 4 "locations": Beszel, UlQoma, Breech, Orciny. It is described on Wikipedia as combining "weird fiction with the police procedural."

I recommend watching the first two episodes before reading the book - as it sets your brain in motion and gives you visuals that help to understand the book and the characters.
The film features lots of flash forwards and backwards - it helps that the main police character didn''t have a beard when the film flashes back and does have a beard in the present.

I''m sure there are many reviews going into great detail about the book - maybe read them afterwards because the mystery is the message...
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Thomas M.N.
2.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
This book is painfully strange and confusing, but I''m going to power through it
Reviewed in the United States on February 10, 2021
I''m on page 80, which is about a quarter of the way through the book. By the time I got to page 50 I had to google this book to read a summary to even figure out what is going on. It starts off as a police procedural murder investigation, then the scifi elements get folded... See more
I''m on page 80, which is about a quarter of the way through the book. By the time I got to page 50 I had to google this book to read a summary to even figure out what is going on. It starts off as a police procedural murder investigation, then the scifi elements get folded in slowly in such a way that you start to question your reading comprehension. What in the world are these people even talking about?

I had just finished playing a phycological almost sci-fi video game called Disco Elysium, which I love. I googled novels similar to DE, and found this one come up so often, so I took the plunge and bought full-price. I just don''t see the similarities other than the superficial ones (it follows a policeman, strange things are happening in an otherwise grounded genre of story). But in The City and The City, it''s just too bizarre too quickly, and oddly too grounded. I would be more likely to accept some of the strangeness if it didn''t take place in our world.

This perhaps isn''t the most intellectual critique of this book you''re likely to find, but I am just finding it confusing and frustratingly weird. I think I''m going to keep reading (again, I''m about a quarter of the way through) to see if it''s going to be worth it, but so far my initial impression is... no.
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Mrs. Sarah Crabtree
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
A tale of two cities
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on April 13, 2018
I can’t believe it’s eight years since I bought and read this book, and now I return to it again having seen the fantastic 4 part BBC adaptation starring David Morrissey (Between the Lines), Maria Schrader (Deutschland 83) and Paprika Steen (Below the Surface). I could add...See more
I can’t believe it’s eight years since I bought and read this book, and now I return to it again having seen the fantastic 4 part BBC adaptation starring David Morrissey (Between the Lines), Maria Schrader (Deutschland 83) and Paprika Steen (Below the Surface). I could add more names but this review is for the book. The concept of two cities that run parallel and never cross was for me a tricky thing to get my head around. I thought it was just me, but having read some of the more negative reviews, it’s clear that others struggled a bit, too. However, one thing I grasped pretty quickly was that this was a very special book and definitely worth the perseverance. I agree with another reviewer who says that it is a political novel. I also think that you have to be politically minded to engage with it. The idea that there is this other world which runs parallel with your own and only crosses over when something happens to disrupt the status quo is very poignant. Take a look at the stories currently dominating the news: how a person’s life can change forever on the flip of a coin. Of course we all come to this novel with our own preconceptions. To have read it in 2010, would have to already experienced the global near financial meltdown. See my review of Gordon Brown’s autobiography, whom as it happens, David Morrissey portrayed in the 2003 film The Deal. So how does the book compare with the adaptation, and which should you look at first? I think it helped to be familiar with the novel because I was curious as to how these two worlds would be portrayed, and for me the transfer from book to screen was an almost perfect project. The idea of ‘unseeing’ something was again a concept I struggled with, but on the screen it works so well. An extra character is added to the film version, and I am not going to spoil it for you by saying anything more.
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The Lit Doctor
1.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Brilliant Idea Wasted
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on August 19, 2018
The premise of the story in this novel is exceptionally intriguing. In concept, it feels like an Orwellian tale set against a surreal mash-up of Jerusalem and walled Berlin. The murder that kicks things off, and the machinations of Breach, are fascinating. However, the...See more
The premise of the story in this novel is exceptionally intriguing. In concept, it feels like an Orwellian tale set against a surreal mash-up of Jerusalem and walled Berlin. The murder that kicks things off, and the machinations of Breach, are fascinating. However, the prose is so heavily stylised (and I''m being charitable by using the term stylised) that reading the novel is like swimming through treacle. It is verbose, clumsy, and the dialogue in particular is so ... turgid ... especially ... with all the ellipses ... that I wanted to ... pull my own teeth out while ... reading. Additionally, the characters don''t do justice to the concept. In fact, there is only really one character; the protagonist, with the remaining cast being little more than glove puppets. It actually makes me angry that such a brilliant concept could be so badly executed. I''m in no doubt however that there will be plenty of readers seeing the Emperor''s new clothes where I can detect only a void.
8 people found this helpful
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garrisonhalibut
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Stick with it....
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on January 14, 2017
I really battled with the beginning of this book, mainly because the names are non- familiar so it was hard to keep track of them. I''m glad I stuck with it because I really got into it about one third of the way through. I''d never heard of the author and couldn''t even tell...See more
I really battled with the beginning of this book, mainly because the names are non- familiar so it was hard to keep track of them. I''m glad I stuck with it because I really got into it about one third of the way through. I''d never heard of the author and couldn''t even tell what genre it is, because it''s fantasy that''s frighteningly close to reality. While the detective story plot is somewhat far fetched, over complex and incomprehensible, the main show is really the description of the invented world of two cities adjacent to one another which have learned to coexist via some bizarre but believable protocols. Incredibly the end is actually moving ( although it was predictable) and the book leaves an indelible memory and is recommended.
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sft
3.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
The nitty and the gritty
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on August 3, 2015
There’s no denying Miéville’s intelligence, ingenuity, and imagination: THE CITY AND THE CITY has at its core one of the most original concepts I’ve encountered in a long time. And he imbues his enigmatic world with a wonderful sense of elusive, arcane mystery. Comparisons...See more
There’s no denying Miéville’s intelligence, ingenuity, and imagination: THE CITY AND THE CITY has at its core one of the most original concepts I’ve encountered in a long time. And he imbues his enigmatic world with a wonderful sense of elusive, arcane mystery. Comparisons with Kafka and Philip K. Dick are sometimes made when it comes to Miéville’s work and it’s easy to see why. This is, however, a little misleading as Miéville has a style and authority all of his own. His prose is assured and artful, although he does, at times, indulge a fondness for abstruse vocabulary, which might put some readers off. I enjoyed the TCATC but I still have reservations. For me the use of a whodunit structure was the book’s weakness. The police investigation never really gripped me as much as I would have liked and I was left with the sense that such a creative concept as that deployed here would have been better served by another narrative framework. That said, it’s evident that Miéville is a considerable talent, and I look forward to reading more of his work. 3.5/5
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J. Russell
2.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Pointlessly convoluted
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on July 23, 2018
I had the mistaken impression that this was a fantasy novel, but it is actually a detective story with political overtones. The workings of the imaginary twin city are unbelievable and no explanation is given of how or why this could come about. The writing is clumsy and I...See more
I had the mistaken impression that this was a fantasy novel, but it is actually a detective story with political overtones. The workings of the imaginary twin city are unbelievable and no explanation is given of how or why this could come about. The writing is clumsy and I frequently had to go back over passages to get any sense out of them. There are three words I had to look up in a dictionary as I’d never seen them before and I don’t expect to see them again. Maybe the author is trying to show us how clever he is. I got interested in the nature of the archeological finds, but that was never developed. I was quite keen on the idea of Orciny, but that turned out to be a damp squib too.
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