Thursday Book

The City & the City - China Miéville

When an unidentified woman is found dead in the city of Besźel, Inspector Borlú quickly begins to suspect that this is far from a typical case for the Extreme Crime Squad. For Besźel is a unique place, where the inhabitants must live every day without seeing what's right in front of them. Anyone who breaks this taboo is subject to terrible penalties. Could this murder be tied up in the very nature of Besźel - and the other city?

Okay, this book blew me away. Kafkaesque is probably the most obvious adjective to use to describe it - not Kafkaesque like Brazil, I mean Kafkaesque like, you know, Franz Kafka. But that's not all there is to it, I mean Kafka was this guy who didn't finish much and died young, while this is a carefully planned and plotted book with memorable characters and a strong sense of cause and effect (at least, within its surreal premise). It has these great, obvious, seemingly overwhelming themes, and then it engages with them and files them down with nuance and complication. And, at the same time, it's a crafty crime novel with a fantastic setting.

The City & the City is, in my ignorant opinion, a stonking great work of modern literature - but, just as importantly, it's also a bloody good read.


Michelle said...

Is Besźel really that unique? ;-)

It sounds like a great read.

mark said...



(captcha: "hesse" ...hmm)

mark said...


(remainder of http)

Pacian said...

Cool, if spoilery.