The City and The City-China Mieville: Stunning, Surreal & Sensational

The City and the CityThe City and the City by China Miรฉville

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Recommended by: Sumant Srivathsan

At one level, there’s a story about two cities that share the same space. Not twin cities, not neighboring cities even, these are two different cities that sit on the same geography. Each city is painfully, awkwardly aware of the other and there are stringent rules to navigate the complicated life that it creates for its citizens. Things get even more complex when you factor in the rest of the world, how it sees these cities, how foreigners interact with them, live in them and ultimately add their own brand of chaos to the existing confusion.

At another level, it felt like a metaphor for the split living all of us in cities face. Cities are not just complex ecosystems, they are collectives of different systems, some in progress, some incomplete and many in direct conflict. Socioeconomic groups & cultural divides are two of the most prominent splits I see in my own city and I could see them mirrored in Mievel’s Bezel & Ul Qoma.

And finally, there is a decent whodunnit set in this complex situation. As a murder thriller, I’d rate this average but the blown-out-of-the-park unusual setting takes this book to a few notches above. Definitely read if you like surrealism.

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