Friday, April 8, 2011

The City and the City by China Mieville: Somebody Else's Review

I ran across this excellent review of one of my favorite books of 2010: China Mieville's THE CITY AND THE CITY and thought you should see it. Most especially if you haven't read the book yet. I'm not sure why a review this late in the day in the Boston Review, perhaps it's because of the paperback's publication by Del Rey. I am such a fan of Mieville that I am happy enough when he gets good press anytime. If you haven't yet acquainted yourself with China Mieville's writing, you need to do so. Check out the review and I'm sure you'll be intrigued.

Then take a look at this fascinating in-depth interview with Mieville done by BLDGBLOG.


  1. Thanks, Yvette. I always enjoy reading about the writer's intentions. Helps explain and clarify things I may have been confused or unclear about. And now I see the Chandler angle - so obvious if it had been "The Purloined Letter" it would have bit me on the nose. The urban landscape of Chandler is definitely there, the mild air of paranoia is there. Still, the book was more like Philip K. Dick's work than anything else I've read.

    I should point out that the article is really an interview about how Mieville treats the idea of cities in his work. Naturally the interviewer starts off with THE CITY AND THE CITY. But they discuss all sorts of things and other Mieville books as well.

    I liked THE CITY AND THE CITY - just finished it three days ago. (I have you to thank again for bringing Mieville to my attention, BTW.) His prose style took some getting used to. I was caught up in the story and the characters and wanted more of that. For me there was a lot of delay in progressing with the story while the narrator went off on intellectual riffs and philosophical musings about the two cities. TO some extent this w snecesary so the reder could glean the cultural elements of each, the difference in launguages, the concept on "unseeing", etc, but I thought the bulk of the book was more about ideas than the story of the two archeology students involved in a criminal conspiracy. Of course the play of ideas and concepts seems to be intrinsic in Mieville's work - and especially in most traditional science fiction and all forms of fiction that descend from that.

    It was a great break from vintage crime, that's for sure. If I read another book about someone killed because he was changing his will I think I might have gone on a rampage. :^D

  2. Forgive the typos in previous post. Often when I get fervent I just type with feeling with no regard for spelling or punctuation.

  3. John: Don't worry, I hardly noticed. It happens to me all the time.

    I'm just happy you took my advice and read Mieville. :-)

    He is an acquired taste, I think. If I'd read him before I was ready for his sort of thing, I'd probably not have liked his work at all. I read THE CITY AND THE CITY last year and my memory of it is chancey to say the least. But I do remember how much I liked it and how it was not the easiest read around. But I loved the concept. I wish he'd write a sequel. But I don't think that's going to happen.

    Odd mixture of noir and sci-fi, but it works. I didn't mind the 'riffs'. I loved all the 'foreign' sounding words and the difficult pronounciations - adds the exotic touch.

    Have you read KRAKEN? I reckon this is more an example of 'fantasy-realism' than anything else. I reviewed it a while back. I loved everything about it except the ending. But there was some stuff going on there that I couldn't quite figure out. Still, I recommend it highly.

  4. I saw a copy of KRAKEN at my local library and at 500+ pages I had to pass. I hope to tackle it in the summer. I've known of the Kraken legend since I was a kid when I was fascinated with mythology and legendary monsters.

    I did pick up a copy of Perdido Street Station because that one appealed to me more than any of his other earlier books. And after reading the article/interview I'm all the more intrigued. But that's an epic length novel too. [...sigh...] I'm setting it aside for my next plane trip at the end of the month.

  5. John: Actually, KRAKEN reads very quickly, so don't be afraid of the page count. I've yet to read PERDIDO STREET STATION, that's on my TBR Mountain as we speak. I brought it home from the library once, but never got around to it. I got a package in the mail today; 3 Mary Roberts Rinehart books. My MRR Binge continues!


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