by China Miéville
China Miéville is taking the reading world the hard way – starting at the oh-so-low level of ‘genre fiction’ and forcing the rest of the literary world to damn well pay attention. His previous novel, the existential thriller The City & The City, received scintillating reviews extolling the intelligence and invention of a young novelist of prodigious originality, and blazed a path to awards and bestseller lists.
Kraken is less philosophical than The City, but intoxicated with the same delirious creativity. Miéville tells the story of Billy Harrow, research scientist at London’s Natural History Museum. Billy, in pursuing the mysterious disappearance of the museum’s prize specimen, a giant squid, travels into the dark heart of an unexpected London. Miéville’s London is obsessed with cephalopodic auguries and their eschatological implications: warring gangs, religious mania, secret agencies and bizarre cults litter the landscape of this irreverent and at times hilarious narrative. But beware! It would be a mistake to underestimate this unconventional story – satire resides in its aberrant heart as well as an intelligent parody of modern authority and maniacal ideology.
There’s a refreshing lack of need to compare Miéville to other writers; fascinatingly unique and tantalisingly creative he is becoming one of those writers almost necessary to read.