I try to walk a fine line in many of these Picks between telling you enough about a movie, book, etc. to get you interested but not so much that I spoil it and/or ruin some of the surprises contained within. Sometimes that means that I end up telling you very little and asking you to trust me.
This is one of those times.
This week’s Pick is the 2007 novel The City & The City by China Mieville. Mieville is a British author known for his work in the area of “Weird Fiction,” and he is perhaps best known for a trilogy of books set in the fantasy/steampunk mash-up world of Bas-Lag.
The City & The City is not part of that series, and is set instead in the present in our world. The main character, Tyador Borlu, is a police inspector in the Eastern European city-state of Beszel. The discovery of a dead woman puts Borlu into a mystery also involving the nearby rival city-state of Ul Qoma.
That plot description sounds fairly generic, I know, which is where the “trust me” part comes in. The setting of this book is far more unique than it seems from what I first told you. As a reader, you’re going to have to put in a little work as you are faced with new terms used by Borlu, but all of them become clear as the book goes on.
The City & The City stuck with me for days after I read it, and I would love to see Mieville revisit Beszel and Ul Qoma in another novel. There are so many other areas to explore. Read the book and see if you agree with me.
- Alan Decker
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