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YMMV / The City & the City

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  • Fridge Brilliance: The whole novel is rife with it; it has quite a lot of applicability to real-life political situations. More than a few commentators have pointed out that the novel’s two cities on the same plot of land, where citizens of each city have been trained not to see those from the other, can be read as a metaphor for apartheid, or the United States’ legal system (in which African-Americans and other racial minorities are disproportionately subjected to harsher penalties than white Americans), or various other unequal legal situations throughout the years in which citizens of a country have been trained not to notice legal inequalities. The novel manages to be political without being Anvilicious about it; the politics permeate the entire novel, but because Miéville never descends into overt lecturing, one has to think about the novel to understand its message.
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  • Genius Bonus: Miéville is a left-winger with a doctorate in international law. Many of the themes of the novel, especially the idea that laws create structures which, in the minds of the people subject to them, are as real and stifling as any geographic or other concrete construction (in the case of the novel, the distinction between the two cities), are those espoused by the Critical Legal Studies movement in jurisprudence.

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