Book Reviews & Essays on Literature

The City & The City, by China Miéville

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The City and the CityOn the surface of it, this novel is about two cities, Besźel and Ul Qoma, existing right beside each other, divided by a line, actual and imaginary. A murder takes place in Besźel, and a detective, Tyador Borlú, is tasked with “crossing over” and solving the mystery. The novel does have the traditional detective novel trademarks – clues, forensics, witnesses, statements, red herrings, etc. etc. But it is about the murder as well as about a man seeing what the other side is like, and trying to figure out who holds the power and who separated the cities – because sometimes the division is a mere cobblestone or two. Borlú gets caught up in the plots of divisionists and unificationists, and those who try to understand what is going on. Those who question the accepted norms have an even worse time than the antagonists. Throughout, you are left wondering: – Is this a metaphor for some place, some time? (Continue reading…)

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