45ish 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 in bits and pieces through the eyes of our narrator Inspector Tyador Borlu is from the Extreme Crime Suad in Beszel one of the titular Cities and he s got a mystery on his handsMieville gives us an absolutely brilliant interpretation of segregation cultural differences political influence governmental authority etc in his creation of this fascinating world view spoilerwhich is really ust a different take on our own bizarre world there are plenty of examples of grosstopical separation throughout history hide spoiler 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 uitting 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 except the slow increase in the read percentage I first gave up at 25% but I pushed on a bit without any happy result I told myself that i will not struggle any with books that I do not enjoy so bye bye On to the next ones 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 mysteryThe story begins typical for the detective mystery genre we follow Inspector Tyador Borlu of the Extreme Crime Suad to the scene of a murdered and nude woman It is a seedy run down area full of addicts and at first it appears as if she s another lost soul from the streets Tyador commanders an eager young subordinate Corwi for her street contacts and legwork Before long an anonymous tip points them in the direction of Il oma the city that lives withinalongsideinterstices with their own city of Beszel The citizens of both places are monitored by Breach a mysterious authority who will spirit away those who mistakenly acknowledge the partner city without following proper channels Why were you there It was a conference Policing Split Cities They had sessions on Budapest and Jerusalem and Berline and Beszel and Ul uoma Fuck I know I know That s what we said at the time Totally missing the point Split cities I m surprised the acad let you go The idea of two cities co existing in shared spaces but actually separate nations is a brilliant idea Unfortunately Big Idea is all that holds this story together which has little to humanize it amidst a slow and painful investigation It occurred to me that this is the premise of so many other books the unseen co existing with the seen but I felt it was hard to get a grip on the intricacies of the schismBezel and Il uoma never truly differentiated for me I think part of the reason is that Mieille relies on two main modes of describing his cities the architecture and the political history I felt very much like I was being given a lesson on Yugoslavia or walled Berlin or one of the split cities so overtly mentioned An example from page 43In typical political cliche unificationists were split on many axes Some groups were illegal sister organisations in both Beszel and Ul oma The banned had at varioius points in their history advocated the use of violence to bring the cities to their God destiny history or people intended unity Some had mostly cack handedly targeted nationalist intellectuals bricks through windows and shit through doors They had been accused of furtively propagandising among refugees and new immigrants with limited expertise at seeing and unseeing at being in one particular city The activists wanted to weaponise such urban uncertaintyI can appreciate such description but does it resonate Evoke emotion I think of Kate Griffin s Matthew Swift series how London comes alive with the lyrical descriptions and wonder at the difference Perhaps people would have helped or further character building of the ones we had Histories of the characters could have been used to gain insight into the schism between the two but only Tyador s youth is shared in any detail About the only person that stood out for me was the detective s superior who humorously managed to undercut Borlu s complaints with every line of dialogue This is bullshit We ve been screwed It is bullshit he tells me Gadlem said to the world He tells me we ve been screwed We ve been screwed sir We need Breach How the hell are we supposed to do this Someone somewhere is trying to freeze this where it stands We ve been screwed he tells me and I note he tells me so as if I am disagreeing with him Which when last I looked I was not doing I enjoyed China s word play particularly grosstopically reference to things that are near in physical space but from different nations But the word smithing didn t feel as sophisticated as Embassytown or as fun as Kraken which is interesting as Were Published In A Three Year were published in a three year of the vocabulary was created around the idea of unseeing the neighbor city and it s occupants Overall the language felt stilted and excessively formal for genre fiction further distancing me from the storyIt s not that I don t understand the exploration of the dissonant conjoined cities We take the noir detective format incorporate a nice play on the idea of two cities merged but unseen occupying almost the same space with each other It s actually a relatively common exercise in the spec ficsci fi world giving an author and reader familiar concepts to latch onto while the author forays into stranger places There are times the Big Idea works well and can carry a novel on its own but for me this wasn t it I d suggest Only Forward if you want to play with the idea of city and identity O Happy FaultI 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 analysisThe premise of the book is that the City in uestion 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 of each half are not permitted to see hear smell touch or otherwise interact with the residents of the other half Each population is restricted to its designated spaces in which everyone lives apparently normal lives but with no awareness of the others who live among themResidents from each half may visit the other half by transferring through a sort of border tunnel in the middle of the City Having crossed from one half to the other the visitor is reuired to participate fully in its life He or she must unsee everything with which he is intimately familiar from his half Any lapse in this protocol is considered a Breach and is dealt with harshly as a matter of lawThere are certainly a variety of ways in which Mieville s imagination can be interpreted for example as a representation of the human psychological ability to simply ignore what it does not wish to see or as the regrettable compartmentalization of modern life in which certain moral behaviors are permissible in one box but anathema in another or as a critiue of the economic social and racial ghettoization of not ust cities but also of whole societiesMy first reading resulted in an interpretation of the City as wallowing in an unfortunate fate implicitly waiting and hoping for some sort of redemptive unification of the City The separation of the two parts of the City was the result of an obscure historical act euivalent to Original Sin No one remembers what the act was or when it was committed but its effects persist in the rigid and unnecessary conventions that dominate the City s lifeUpon reflection I have come to a very different interpretation of the book thanks to the influence of an unexpected source a discussion of so called religious aesthetics by a theologian named Frank Burch Brown see Brown s analysis opens up a very different possibility for understanding Mieville s idea of parallel worlds occupying the same geographical space but alien to one another This alternative explanation is based on some rather interesting observations on aesthetics the study of choosing the filters by which we allow ourselves to perceive the world Generalizing his conception a bit what Brown suggests is that Mieville s type of split world is not a flaw or distortion but a necessary condition for human beings to avoid falling into the trap of their own hubris Each world in fact helps to make the other visible The uniue social conventions s architecture literature cuisine and routines of one can never be taken entirely for granted because there is another set of these cultural conditions literally ust around the corner This fact ensures that neither half of the City can ever turn itself its particular concerns aims and prejudices into idols because This is the way the world really is They are forced in daily life to recognize the existence of the other precisely through the persiste. 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 Suad But as he investigates the evidence points to conspiracies far stranger and deadly than anything he could have imaginedBorlú must travel from the decaying Beszel to the only metropolis on Earth as strange as his own This is a border crossing like no other a ou.
summary ✓ eBook, ePUB or Kindle PDF ´ China MiévilleNow before continuingAHHHHHH that s betterbut nowWOAHeverything is so GREEEEENsorry about thatwhere was Ioh yeah the awesomenessMajor parts of Beszel are geographically located and exist in the same physical space as major parts of another city known as Ul oma The history of how this happened is only hinted at and mostly shrouded in mystery but the result is that these two cities each have 3 distinct areas Areas 1 and 2 are those parts of the cities that are 100% in one city or another basically what we would call normal These are referred to by residents of the cities as either Total what a citizen calls the parts that are 100% in their own city or Alter what a citizen calls the parts that are 100% in the other city Still with megood because here is where it gets real tricky dicky The third area type is referred to as cross hatched As the name implies these are areas where the cities overlap and places appear in both cities As Wackyspeedia puts it These might be streets parks or suares where denizens of both cities walk alongside one another albeit unseen Now let s talk about the albeit unseen because that is the crux of the fantastical element of the story People from both cities are indoctrinated from birth to unsee people from the other city in those areas that are cross hatched To acknowledge or see someone from another city is the single worst taboo in both cities so even than murder and is referred to as breach I know kinda hurts the head but believe me when I say that CM does such an amazing ob with the story that after the first 75 to 100 pages you are completely immersed in the world and it actually makes sense That s enough plot background From there you are on your own but CM has your back and you are in the most capable of hands MOST IMPRESSIVE ASPECTS OF THE NOVELFirst The ability for Mieville to make this complex cerebrally challenging world come to life and resonate with the reader Basically everything I said above Second As good as the concept was the execution of this tremendously difficult idea is the single greatest accomplishment of this story and something that is almost never done successfully with this kind of difficult central concept The book stays in character THE ENTIRE TIME There i Full on This book is special It s my first encounter with China Mieville and I m very intrigued to read What a mind bending story The 2 city concept is so challenging fantastic not Vastavalo just a great idea but something very hard to really grasp in detailThe 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 and fascinationIn other books I would have taken issue with the lack of explanations starting very soon in the book But the way Mieville presents the mysteries and the what the hell is happening here is so authentic It s written from the perspective of the main character and he is not explaining himself to the readerIt didn t take long for me to get hooked on the story and there wasn t a moment of slowness in it for me In my edition there was an interview with the author at the end which I found deepend my understanding of the author without revealing about the mystery I m looking forward to read of his books Thanks for the wonderful rideIust learned this book is being adapted to film I really would like to see how that turns out David Morrissey will be playing the inspector What at first simply seems interesting the overlapping geographical space of the two distinct cities of Beszel and Ul oma by turns becomes an absorbing part of the mystery in C Wow Okay I m definitely fangirling for China Mi ville 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 protagonistSOME SPOILERS MAY HAVE CREEPED IN SOMEHOW SO BE WARNEDThis is my first non Bas Lag novel set in the or less real world But no reason to worry this remains as much of weird fiction as anything else by His Chinaness As Mi ville tries to write a novel in every genre of fiction this time he tackles a hardboiled noir crime mystery A murder of a young woman investigated by a slightly cynical but good and incorruptible detective Tyador Borl of Beszel Extreme Crime Suad uickly evolves into a much larger mystery plot It is a detective story a hard boiled crime with all the specifics and peculiarities of this genre We have a murder mystery high reliance on dialogue fast paced plot many logical leaps and Silent Empire jumps that may confuse the reader about certain plot points but that still shed light on the story as a whole We are all philosophers here where I am and we debate among many other things the uestion of where it is that we liveBut the mystery plot albeit engaging and interesting feelsust as an excuse to introduce the reader to the fascinating world of uasi Eastern European twin cities of Besz l and Ul oma The cities are the true protagonists not Detective Berl whose character is Little Than An Outline The than an outline the into this world Once a single city Besz l and Ul oma were split apart by a mysterious Cleavage centuries ago From that historically brief uite opaue moment came the chaos of our material history an anarchy of chronology of mismatched remnants that delighted and horrified investigatorsThese are two separate nations with distinct languages customs clothes economics They do not like each other much And yet they are not separated by any physical barrier the division between them is done by their citizens who have been conditioned since the early age to unsee and unhear the citizens of the other country even if they share the same streets "and buildings in the crosshatched areas belonging both " buildings in the crosshatched areas belonging both Besz l and Ul oma The cities share their past and present and their geography but rigidly maintain the invisible lines of separation Simply seeing and acknowledging someone from the other city who can be within inches of you on the same street on the same sidewalk but yet in another country is the ultimate crime the breach And it is this semi willing separation between Besz l and Ul oma that brings out the overarching themes of this book The City The City addresses the uestion of national identity and how it is determined There is much than simple geography that goes into creating a people a nation There are subtler things like bits and pieces of learned behaviors strange and puzzling to the foreigners beliefs and habits time tested social conventions seemingly ridiculous taboos based on strange old traditions It s the amalgam of the little seemingly senseless and hard to understand things that defines a nation As I m visiting my Eastern European motherland right now I m struck by the realization of the same how much the national identity is the direct result of little idiosyncrasies And the uestion arises what will become of the nation itself if its beliefs and peculiarities are uestioned Is there a comeback from that It s not ust us keeping them apart It s everyone in Besz l and everyone in Ul oma Every minute every day We re only the last ditch it s everyone in the cities who does most of the work It works because you don t blink That s why unseeing and unsensing are so vital No one can admit it doesn t work So if you don t admit it it does But if you breach even if it s not your fault for than the shortest time you can t come back from thatAs usual Mi ville presents us with superb and sophisticated world building The both cities are vivid and memorable the atmosphere in both is depicted with skill and depth and the nuances of this world are revealed subtly and unobtrusively without overt clunky exposition As I came to expect from him China Mi ville takes a concept that is rather difficult to swallow the duality of this world relying on little else but the tradition to keep it going and develops it so well that by the end of the book it felt real to meThe language of The City The City when compared to the Bas Lag books is uite simple even minimalistic It is not luxurious or flowing on the contrary it is crisp clear and devoid of any extraneous words any extraneous descriptions any possible fluff It was the first book by Mi ville that I found a uick and easy read And yet despite the surface easiness it is still incredibly sophisticated and very visualThis book fully deserves 45 stars I highly recommend it both to Mi ville fans and those who for whatever strange reason have not read his books yet The premise is extraordinarily interesting and meticulously developed The uestion posed what if two opposed cities existed side by side with than an occasional overlap but were separated not by an actual wall like East and West Berlin but by the deeply inculturated 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 investigate the crime without violating the taboos of their societyThe first third of the book and a brief coda at the end are filled with symbolic resonance Unfortunately however the mystery itself is conventional the action predictable and the murderer easily guessed The second third is less effective than the first and the final section less effective stillIf Mieville had embodied the symbolic essence of his original conceit in working out his plot this might have been a work worthy of Kafka and Schulz its major influences As is it is a so so mystery with a hauntingly memorable settingThen again the setting continues to resonate long after the book is completed for it has much to say to us about the uneasy compromises we make in a complex urban environment Perhaps after all this resonance is enough. Ectives uncover the dead woman’s secrets they begin to suspect a truth that could cost them and those they care about than their lives What stands against them are murderous powers in Beszel and in Ul oma and most terrifying of all that which lies between these two citiesCasting shades of Kafka and Philip K Dick Raymond Chandler and 1984 The City the City is a murder mystery taken to dazzling metaphysical and artistic heights. Nt demand to not notice it BrilliantSo the split personality of The City the City is not a flaw resulting from some horrible primordial mistake but a well conceived design executed by some wise folk to to keep the residents from that most dreadful mortal sin of believing one s own press Wow Make that Double WowUnsurpassed imagination and invention All within the context of detective novel that s a turbocharged page turner The cityscape China Mi ville creates here is neither Kafka absurdist nor Dali surreal his novel s two cities are every bit as substantial and realistic as Jo Nesb s Oslo or Tana French s Dublin or Stieg Larsson s Stockholm and it s this grounding in realism that makes Mi ville s weird elements all the weirderI completely agree with Stephen King who has stated emphatically again and again that book reviewers and writers of dust ackets usually go overboard and give away far too much especially when it comes to mysteries and thrillers Thus I ll avoid plot development and stick with describing a number of keys for The City The City ONE BODY Crime scene In the weeds in an open area among drab buildings police gather around a murder victim a twenty something woman naked Was she a working girl A hooker Why was she dumped here far out from the heart of their city of Be el The name of the first detective on the scene Bardo Naustin Nice touch China Bardo is a term from Tibetan Buddhism referring to the between usually associated with the state between an individual s final breath here on earth and their next rebirth Much of the novel s action takes place in those multidimensional between spaces between the two cities between myth and history between perception and reality TWO CITIESAs if out on the fringes of Eastern Europe poor dingy Glasgow and rich glittering Dubai are contiguous so close the cities share streets and intersections as well as intersecting histories For China Mi ville these two cities are Bes el and Ul oma Bes el Poverty deshaped the already staid drab cuts and colours that enduringly characterized Bes clothes what had been called the city s fashionless fashion Over the course of two hundred years refugees from the Balkans flooded into the city s previously Jewish ghettos swelling the number of Muslims For many decades it has been common to see coffeehouses side by side one Jewish one Muslim with a single name and sharing tables and chairs for customers Also worth noting the few booming Bes el businesses include liuor stores and women selling sex However with its uniue geography and architecture including many cathedrals Bes el still attracts a fair share of tourists Ul oma Money and money from foreign investors mostly Canadian has been flowing into this secular slick ultramodern metropolis Tall skyscrapers are rapidly replacing traditional baroue buildings and one prime Ul oma attraction is the impressive Temple of Inevitable Light There are sports stadiums and community gardens and parks where Ul oman natives mingle with Kurds Pakistanis Somalis and Sierra Leoneans Ul oma has its own language and dialects mostly but not entirely separate from the language of Bes el THREE DETECTIVES Inspector Tyador Borl of the Bes ian Extreme Crime Suad Our perceptive first person narrator is a native of Bes el and is totally dedicated to uncovering the truth surrounding the murder of that twenty something young lady Inspector Borl s personality and dogged relentlessness call to mind investigative ournalist Mikael Blomkvist from Steig Larsson s Millennium series Constable Lizbyet Corwi Officially she s Borl s assistant but her intelligence and abilities with the computer make her of a partner than mere assistant Very much like Borl Lizbyet Corwi is a tenacious truth seeker willing to make sacrifices and put her life in danger in order to crack a case Senior Detective ussim Dhatt The murder investigation takes Inspector Borl to Ul oma He is assigned to work with Dhatt a hardliner from the old school Dhatt detests what he considers ragtag troublemakers such as the unificationists who want nothing than to obliterate any distinction between the two cities Dhatt hates to work outside official lines so when Borl brings certain facts to his attention the Ul oma senior detective has a series of life and death decisions to make FOUR BITS OF WEIRDNESS Unseeing A truly uniue part of the novel The citizens of Bes el are trained at an early age to unsee anything relating to Ul oma the people the buildings their merchandise their streets If someone is caught not unseeing there will be most unpleasant conseuences Likewise for citizens of Ul oma they are reuired to unsee anything relating to Bes el This choosing to see and not see reminds me of the 18th century philosopher George Berkeley and his to be is to be perceived In other words if I do not see something that something does not exist Crosshatching Areas and street and intersections belonging to both Bes el and Ul oma All citizens from both cities must be particularly alert when approaching or crossing such crosshatched areas since one wouldn t want to be caught not unseeing This even goes for the police many the time Borl Corwi and Dhatt flip into a kind of hyperawareness when dealing with crosshatching Breach The truly weird part of The City and The City Breach is a shadowy third city existing in the hidden margins between Bes el and Ul oma Their police force seems to have powers bordering on the miraculous If someone violates their laws and breaches then those unfortunates are instantly swarmed on by the powers of Breach And perhaps never heard from again And Breach doesn t abide by either city s laws rather they establish and enforce their own laws The forces of Breach not only weird but eerie and creepy bordering on sinister Orciny There are legends and myths and fairy tales revolving around the ancient city
Orciny that predates el and Ul oma Some say the ancient city still exists in secret hidden places Since ultimate power is very much part of the legend of Orciny there are speculations as to its relationship with Breach Is Orciny the ultimate counterforce to Breach Or perhaps is Orciny ust another name for Breach Mystery upon mystery FIVE CONCLUDING OBSERVATIONSLinguistics For those readers interested in language China Mi ville s novel will be a treat Here s a snip of what the author offers If you do not know much about them Illitan and Bes sound very different They are written of course in distinct alphabets Bes is in Bes thirty four letters left to right all sounds rendered clear and phonetic consonants vowels and demivowels decorated with diacritics it looks one often hears like Cyrillic though that is a comparison likely to annoy a citizen of Bes el true or not Illitan uses Roman script This is recentHigh Culture and Popular Culture The novel takes place in the first decade of the 21st century The culture appears to be not that much different from what a traveler would find in Paris or London two cities Tyador Borl has visited in his earlier years There s mention of one underground novel about secret forces at work in the two cities and Borl reflects on a glitzy Ul oman Fast Economy Zone full of horrible but big public art but that S ABOUT ALL THE REFERENCES TO LITERATURE AND THE about all the references to literature and the Crime Fiction Readers wary of gratuitous violence will be pleased to know there is none to be found in this China Mi ville novel Matter of fact the violence in The City The City is nowhere even close to what one will encounter in Jo Nesb or Stieg Larsson Dogs and Cats I don t recall any dogs or cats but what I do recall is mention of wolves prowling around in both cities One of the curiosities I wasn t expecting Genres Is The City The City science fiction or fantasy Well perhaps there are elements of both at work in the novel but first and foremost this is a crime mystery where the detectives chase down clues in both cities and all the weirdness in between A special book one very much worth the readBritish author China Mi ville born 1972 AN AMAZING EARTH SHATTERING MAKE UP SEXUAL READING EXPERIENCE 60 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 ie Perdido Street Station and The Scar and both of which are among my ALL TIME FAVORITESsuddenly turmoil The cause of the turmoil was Un Lun Dun which I ust did not like and thought was UGH LAME DUMB All of sudden what I thought was going to be a story book literary bromance was rife with doubts uestions and a whole lot of uncertainty Well all that is past like gas my friends I am here to tell you that The City The City is the best apologymake up reading experience I have ever had and has recharged my bookish man crush on CM until it is once again at full throb I mean WOW WOW WUBBZY everyone this story is pure liuid gold highly literate and puts the PRO back in prose in mind bombing fashion What I once might have said with irony I now say with convictionCHINAMIEVILLEISTHE MAN Okay as I imagine my gush will continue throughout this written version of a standing ovation let me at least thumbnail the plot for you as it is a corker The book is framed as a crimemysterydetective thriller The main character is Tyador Borlu a detective in the Extreme Crime Suad ECS for the City of Beszel who is investigating the brutal murder of a young female student While never geographically placed Beszel is a fictional Eastern European city that I was thinking was somewhere in the vicinity of BulgariaRomaniaHungary With me so farokay Now enter the completely original BRAIN CRAMP INDUCING OMGnormously brilliant central Mievillian conceptNOTE If you have mushrooms peyote or some other mind expanding substance you might want to take some. Rney as psychic as it is physical a shift in perception a seeing of the unseen His destination is Beszel’s eual rival and intimate neighbor the rich and vibrant city of Ul oma With Ul oman detective ussim Dhatt and struggling with his own transition Borlú is enmeshed in a sordid underworld of rabid nationalists intent on destroying their neighboring city and unificationists who dream of dissolving the two into one As the det. ,Of Orciny That Predates