I recently began reading The City & The City by China Miéville, and — for no reason, really — I assumed the author was a woman. ‘Tis not. China Miéville is a well-known (except by me, apparently) British author who has won quite a few awards for his self-described “weird fiction” novels. So, moral of the story is that I feel silly for assuming Miéville was female.
I’m not too far into The City & The City, but I’m really getting pulled in. It’s set in the fictional eastern European city of Besźel, and opens with a murder. The murder victim may or may not be a prostitute, and there may or may not be an otherworldly influence in her death. I’m not far enough in for any definite answers yet, but it seems that there is another city (dimension?) — euphemistically referred to as “elsewhere” by the detectives — that overlaps in places with Besźel. These overlaps are called crosshatches, and not everybody can see them. The otherworldly city is called Ul Qoma. Miéville has brilliant descriptions of the crosshatches, though they were a little hard to understand at first. He paints the image of one of the detectives walking down the street, lit not only by the grey lights of his own city, but also by the orange glow of streetlights that aren’t there.
I’ve only read a couple chapters, but I’m very excited to read more. The mystery of the dead woman is matched by the mystery of Ul Qoma, and I can’t wait to discover the secrets of both. Miéville’s weird fiction is definitely gaining another fan right now: me.