13 February, 2017
The city & the city by China Miéville.
Every China Miéville book I have read has been brilliantly plotted. This one is no exception, a science fiction murder mystery with a twist. Set in two fictional East European cities, Beszel and Ul Qoma, which occupy the same space, and where citizens coexist by ignoring, or ‘unseeing’, one another’s cities and inhabitants. To attempt any direct interaction with the counterpart city in any way is a crime resulting in Breach, the powerful entity in the shadowy borderland between the cities that enforces their separation. This lends strangeness to a story which is otherwise a dynamic police mystery.
Detective Inspector Tyador Borlú from Beszel is called to investigate the murder of a female found on a patch of waste land where she has been dumped from a van. He learns that the victim is from Ul Qoma. A videotape comes to light showing the van arriving legally in Beszel from Ul Qoma via the official border crossing point, so Breach has not occurred, and Borlu must travel into Ul Qoma to pursue the investigation. When Breach occurs the transgressors, no matter what their motives or status, usually disappear for good, or are found with their memories wiped.
As Borlú delves deeper into his initial murder investigation, he gets drawn into whispered rumors of a third city, Orciny, which exists in the cracks between the two cities.
A novel highlighting the diversity, contradictions and societal taboos of humans living in cities. China Miéville is one of my favourite authors and I have nothing but admiration for his originality, and the way the complex plot is satisfactorily resolved by the book's end.
Title: The city and the city
Author: China Miéville.
Highly recommended by Lynda T, East Coast Bays Library.
Lynda T reads anything that grabs her interest, but is particularly interested in science fiction and young adult novels.