The City & The City: a review

The City & The City

by China Mieville

Within the geography of a city are realities that differ so strongly, from person to person, it’s hard to reconcile their shared space. Streets, people and places we turn our gaze from, denying their part in our urban landscape. In The City & The City China Miéville applies his vast talents to this concept, creating a novel drenched in originality.

Set in the imagined yet stunningly realistic dual city state of Besźel and Ul-Qoma, Inspector Borlú, of the Extreme Crime Squad, investigates a seemingly routine murder only to be drawn into a cauldron of events that threaten the very foundation of the Cities.

The remarkable premise of the novel hinges on the relationship between the two cities; like Belfast or post-war Berlin, Besźel and Ul-Qoma share the same geography yet are severed by history and culture. It is a relationship taken to profound extremes by Miéville, the citizenry actively divorce their perceptions of their sibling city, unseeing and unsensing the Other. Miéville beautifully explores the metaphorical power of this relationship while delivering a book of searing plot and almost scary creativity.

This wonderful and enthralling novel does what so few others do: it makes us look upon our own places, spaces and interstices with fresh eyes, stripped of comfortable veils.


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