Ah, yes, the Hugo Award nominations were released ages ago. Why so late to the party, Hilary?
I was going through some back issues of Locus that were lying around my house and, on a whim, took a look through the 2009 in Review issue. I was somewhat surprised when I saw so many people going on about The City & The City by China Miéville. When I say surprised, I don’t mean to impugn the quality of the book; more like I was surprised that, for once, I hadn’t been late to the party. I read The City & The City way back at the start of fall semester when it first came out based solely on the byline on the spine. I’ve been a Miéville fan for a while, something my father knew, and was pleased when he brought me a copy of his latest book.
The book itself is a strange sort of duck, very unlike anything else you may have read from Miéville. It’s one of the grandest and most ambitious urban fantasies I have read, but has no magic, no alien worlds, no elves. What it does have are two cities occupying a space maybe the size of Jerusalem, separated by customs, dress, language, and politics. The residents have been taught, from birth, to simply ignore the other city, though it may be as close as the house next door, for there is only one official border, and crossing anywhere else is a serious crime.
I would recommend The City & The City to anyone as an enthralling work. I had a hard time putting it down at night, and a harder time not picking it up when I had homework to do.
Meanwhile, my work continues on a pair of urban phantasies set in my more serious Weird Philadelphia setting (home of Marshall Celan and Project Red). Time, soon, will be the judge of one of the stories, a piece which is now in final revisions after sitting on the back burner for a year, while the other one is partway through being a first draft.