This Census-Taker

Penguin Random House Audio

Narrated by Matthew Frow

4 hr 2 min

For readers of George Saunders, Kelly Link, David Mitchell, and Karen Russell, This Census-Taker is a stunning, uncanny, and profoundly moving novella from multiple-award-winning and bestselling author China Miéville.

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY NPR

In a remote house on a hilltop, a lonely boy witnesses a profoundly traumatic event. He tries—and fails—to flee. Left alone with his increasingly deranged parent, he dreams of safety, of joining the other children in the town below, of escape.

When at last a stranger knocks at his door, the boy senses that his days of isolation might be over.

But by what authority does this man keep the meticulous records he carries? What is the purpose behind his questions? Is he friend? Enemy? Or something else altogether?

Filled with beauty, terror, and strangeness, This Census-Taker is a poignant and riveting exploration of memory and identity.

Praise for This Census-Taker

“China Miéville is a magician . . . who can both blow your mind with ideas as big as the universe and break your heart with language so precise and polished, it’s like he’s writing with diamonds.”—NPR

“The book haunts the reader; what actually happened seems always just out of reach, glimpsed in shadow as it rounds a corner ahead of our vision.”—Los Angeles Review of Books

“[Mieville’s] been compared to Karen Russell and George Saunders, and rightfully so.”—The Huffington Post

“Marvellous.”—The Guardian

“Lingers in the mind like an unsettling dream.”Financial Times

“A thought-provoking fairy tale for adults . . . [This Census-Taker] resembles the narrative style, quirkiness, and plotting found in the works of Karen Russell, Aimee Bender, or Steven Millhauser.”Booklist

“Brief and dreamlike . . . a deceptively simple story whose plot could be taken as a symbolic representation of an aspect of humanity as big as an entire society and as small as a single soul.”Kirkus Reviews
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Publisher
Penguin Random House Audio
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Published on
Jan 12, 2016
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Duration
4h 2m 31s
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ISBN
9780399567254
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Language
English
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Genres
Fiction / Fantasy / Contemporary
Fiction / Fantasy / General
Fiction / Literary
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Eligible for Family Library

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NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY The Washington Post • NPR • The Guardian • Kirkus Reviews • The fiction of multiple award–winning author China Miéville is powered by intelligence and imagination. Like George Saunders, Karen Russell, and David Mitchell, he pulls from a variety of genres with equal facility, employing the fantastic not to escape from reality but instead to interrogate it in provocative, unexpected ways.
 
London awakes one morning to find itself besieged by a sky full of floating icebergs. Destroyed oil rigs, mysteriously reborn, clamber from the sea and onto the land, driven by an obscure purpose. An anatomy student cuts open a cadaver to discover impossibly intricate designs carved into a corpse’s bones—designs clearly present from birth, bearing mute testimony to . . . what?
 
Of such concepts and unforgettable images are made the twenty-eight stories in this collection—many published here for the first time. By turns speculative, satirical, and heart-wrenching, fresh in form and language, and featuring a cast of damaged yet hopeful seekers who come face-to-face with the deep weirdness of the world—and at times the deeper weirdness of themselves—Three Moments of an Explosion is a fitting showcase for one of literature’s most original voices.

Praise for Three Moments of an Explosion
 
“China Miéville is dazzling. His latest collection of short stories, Three Moments of an Explosion, crowds virtuosity into every sentence.”—The New York Times
 
“You can’t talk about [China] Miéville without using the word ‘brilliant.’ . . . His wit dazzles, his humour is lively, and the pure vitality of his imagination is astonishing.”—Ursula K. Le Guin, The Guardian
 
“[A] gripping collection . . . Miéville expertly mixes science fiction, fantasy and surrealism. . . . Amid the longer stories are more cerebral, poetic flash pieces that will haunt the reader beyond the pages of this exceptional book.”—The Washington Post
 
“The stories shine . . . with a winking brilliance.”—The Seattle Times
 
“Mind-bending excursions into the fantastic.”—NPR
 
“Bradbury meets Borges, with Lovecraft gibbering tumultuously just out of hearing.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
 
“Three Moments of an Explosion is a book filled with fabulous oddities.”—Entertainment Weekly
 
“Miéville moves effortlessly among realism, fantasy, and surrealism. . . . His characters, whether ordinary witnesses to extraordinary events or lunatics operating out of inexplicable compulsions, are invariably well drawn and compelling.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
A mythmaker of the highest order, China Miéville has emblazoned the fantasy novel with fresh language, startling images, and stunning originality. Set in the same sprawling world of Miéville’s Arthur C. Clarke Award-winning novel, Perdido Street Station, this latest epic introduces a whole new cast of intriguing characters and dazzling creations.

Aboard a vast seafaring vessel, a band of prisoners and slaves, their bodies remade into grotesque biological oddities, is being transported to the fledgling colony of New Crobuzon. But the journey is not theirs alone. They are joined by a handful of travelers, each with a reason for fleeing the city. Among them is Bellis Coldwine, a renowned linguist whose services as an interpreter grant her passage—and escape from horrific punishment. For she is linked to Isaac Dan der Grimnebulin, the brilliant renegade scientist who has unwittingly unleashed a nightmare upon New Crobuzon.

For Bellis, the plan is clear: live among the new frontiersmen of the colony until it is safe to return home. But when the ship is besieged by pirates on the Swollen Ocean, the senior officers are summarily executed. The surviving passengers are brought to Armada, a city constructed from the hulls of pirated ships, a floating, landless mass ruled by the bizarre duality called the Lovers. On Armada, everyone is given work, and even Remades live as equals to humans, Cactae, and Cray. Yet no one may ever leave.

Lonely and embittered in her captivity, Bellis knows that to show dissent is a death sentence. Instead, she must furtively seek information about Armada’s agenda. The answer lies in the dark, amorphous shapes that float undetected miles below the waters—terrifying entities with a singular, chilling mission. . . .

China Miéville is a writer for a new era—and The Scar is a luminous, brilliantly imagined novel that is nothing short of spectacular.
With this outrageous new novel, China Miéville has written one of the strangest, funniest, and flat-out scariest books you will read this—or any other—year. The London that comes to life in Kraken is a weird metropolis awash in secret currents of myth and magic, where criminals, police, cultists, and wizards are locked in a war to bring about—or prevent—the End of All Things.

In the Darwin Centre at London’s Natural History Museum, Billy Harrow, a cephalopod specialist, is conducting a tour whose climax is meant to be the Centre’s prize specimen of a rare Architeuthis dux—better known as the Giant Squid. But Billy’s tour takes an unexpected turn when the squid suddenly and impossibly vanishes into thin air.

As Billy soon discovers, this is the precipitating act in a struggle to the death between mysterious but powerful forces in a London whose existence he has been blissfully ignorant of until now, a city whose denizens—human and otherwise—are adept in magic and murder.

There is the Congregation of God Kraken, a sect of squid worshippers whose roots go back to the dawn of humanity—and beyond. There is the criminal mastermind known as the Tattoo, a merciless maniac inked onto the flesh of a hapless victim. There is the FSRC—the Fundamentalist and Sect-Related Crime Unit—a branch of London’s finest that fights sorcery

with sorcery. There is Wati, a spirit from ancient Egypt who leads a ragtag union of magical familiars. There are the Londonmancers, who read the future in the city’s entrails. There is Grisamentum, London’s greatest wizard, whose shadow lingers long after his death. And then there is Goss and Subby, an ageless old man and a cretinous boy who, together, constitute a terrifying—yet darkly charismatic—demonic duo.

All of them—and others—are in pursuit of Billy, who inadvertently holds the key to the missing squid, an embryonic god whose powers, properly harnessed, can destroy all that is, was, and ever shall be.
 
A thriller of war that never was—of survival in an impossible city—of surreal cataclysm. In The Last Days of New Paris, China Miéville entwines true historical events and people with his daring, uniquely imaginative brand of fiction, reconfiguring history and art into something new.

“Beauty will be convulsive. . . .”

1941. In the chaos of wartime Marseille, American engineer—and occult disciple—Jack Parsons stumbles onto a clandestine anti-Nazi group, including Surrealist theorist André Breton. In the strange games of the dissident diplomats, exiled revolutionaries, and avant-garde artists, Parsons finds and channels hope. But what he unwittingly unleashes is the power of dreams and nightmares, changing the war and the world forever.

1950. A lone Surrealist fighter, Thibaut, walks a new, hallucinogenic Paris, where Nazis and the Resistance are trapped in unending conflict, and the streets are stalked by living images and texts—and by the forces of Hell. To escape the city, he must join forces with Sam, an American photographer intent on recording the ruins, and make common cause with a powerful, enigmatic figure of chance and rebellion: the exquisite corpse.

But Sam is being hunted. And new secrets will emerge that will test all their loyalties—to each other, to Paris old and new, and to reality itself.

Praise for The Last Days of New Paris

“Beautiful, stunningly realized . . . [The Last Days of New Paris] is a brief vacation in alien latitudes, a midnight layover in an imaginary place.”—NPR

“A thoughtful, highbrow novella . . . Miéville’s self-assured style offers up a strong sense of humanity, while the strange Surrealist monsters give Last Days a fun and complementary mad-science component.”—USA Today

“[A] testament to the necessary, progressive power of art . . . Both moving and disturbingly timely.”—Newsday

“A novel both unhinged and utterly compelling, a kind of guerrilla warfare waged by art itself, combining both meticulous historical research and Miéville’s unparalleled inventiveness.”—Chicago Tribune 

“An extraordinarily original work that foregrounds Mieville’s considerable ingenuity and innovation.”—The Millions

“Hauntingly poetic, strangely beautiful, and erratically intense.”—San Francisco Book Review

“Dazzling . . . quite a feat.”—The Guardian
New York Times bestselling author China Miéville delivers his most accomplished novel yet, an existential thriller set in a city unlike any other–real or imagined.

When a murdered woman is found in the city of Beszel, somewhere at the edge of Europe, it looks to be a routine case for Inspector Tyador Borlú of the Extreme Crime Squad. But as he investigates, the evidence points to conspiracies far stranger and more deadly than anything he could have imagined.

Borlú must travel from the decaying Beszel to the only metropolis on Earth as strange as his own. This is a border crossing like no other, a journey as psychic as it is physical, a shift in perception, a seeing of the unseen. His destination is Beszel’s equal, rival, and intimate neighbor, the rich and vibrant city of Ul Qoma. With Ul Qoman detective Qussim Dhatt, and struggling with his own transition, Borlú is enmeshed in a sordid underworld of rabid nationalists intent on destroying their neighboring city, and unificationists who dream of dissolving the two into one. As the detectives uncover the dead woman’s secrets, they begin to suspect a truth that could cost them and those they care about more than their lives.

What stands against them are murderous powers in Beszel and in Ul Qoma: and, most terrifying of all, that which lies between these two cities.

Casting shades of Kafka and Philip K. Dick, Raymond Chandler and 1984, The City & the City is a murder mystery taken to dazzling metaphysical and artistic heights.
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • Iron Druid Atticus O’Sullivan, hero of Kevin Hearne’s epic urban fantasy series, has a point to make—and then drive into a vampire’s heart.

When a Druid has lived for two thousand years like Atticus, he’s bound to run afoul of a few vampires. Make that legions of them. Even his former friend and legal counsel turned out to be a bloodsucking backstabber. Now the toothy troublemakers—led by power-mad pain-in-the-neck Theophilus—have become a huge problem requiring a solution. It’s time to make a stand.

As always, Atticus wouldn’t mind a little backup. But his allies have problems of their own. Ornery archdruid Owen Kennedy is having a wee bit of troll trouble: Turns out when you stiff a troll, it’s not water under the bridge. Meanwhile, Granuaile is desperate to free herself of the Norse god Loki’s mark and elude his powers of divination—a quest that will bring her face-to-face with several Slavic nightmares.

As Atticus globetrots to stop his nemesis Theophilus, the journey leads to Rome. What better place to end an immortal than the Eternal City? But poetic justice won’t come without a price: In order to defeat Theophilus, Atticus may have to lose an old friend.

Don’t miss any of Kevin Hearne’s phenomenal Iron Druid Chronicles novels:
HOUNDED | HEXED | HAMMERED | TRICKED | TRAPPED | HUNTED | SHATTERED | STAKED

Praise for Kevin Hearne and The Iron Druid Chronicles

“[The Iron Druid books] are clever, fast paced and a good escape.”—Jason Weisberger, Boing Boing

“Celtic mythology and an ancient Druid with modern attitude mix it up in the Arizona desert in this witty new fantasy series.”—Kelly Meding, author of Chimera

“Outrageously fun.”—The Plain Dealer, on Hounded

“Superb . . . plenty of quips and zap-pow-bang fighting.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review), on Hounded

“Exciting . . . [Atticus] is one of the best main characters currently present in the urban fantasy genre.”—Fantasy Book Critic, on Tricked

“Funny, razor-sharp . . . plenty of action, humor, and mythology.”—Booklist (starred review), on Shattered
Neil Gaiman meets Joe Hill in this astonishingly original, terrifying, and darkly funny contemporary fantasy. Carolyn's not so different from the other human beings around her. She's sure of it. She likes guacamole and cigarettes and steak. She knows how to use a phone. She even remembers what clothes are for. After all, she was a normal American herself, once. That was a long time ago, of course-before that time she calls "adoption day," when she and a dozen other children found themselves being raised by a man they learned to call father. Father could do strange things. He could call light from darkness. Sometimes he raised the dead. And when he was disobeyed, the consequences were terrible. In the years since Father took her in, Carolyn hasn't gotten out much. Instead, she and her adopted siblings have been raised according to Father's ancient Pelapi customs. They've studied the books in his library and learned some of the secrets behind his equally ancient power. Sometimes, they've wondered if their cruel tutor might secretly be God. Now, Father is missing. And if God is truly dead, the only thing that matters is who will inherit his library-and with it, power over all creation. As Carolyn gathers the tools she needs for battle to come, fierce competitors for this prize align against her. But Carolyn can win. She's sure of it. What she doesn't realize is that her victory may come at a n unacceptable price-because in becoming God, she's forgotten a great deal about being human.
A thriller of war that never was—of survival in an impossible city—of surreal cataclysm. In The Last Days of New Paris, China Miéville entwines true historical events and people with his daring, uniquely imaginative brand of fiction, reconfiguring history and art into something new.

“Beauty will be convulsive. . . .”

1941. In the chaos of wartime Marseille, American engineer—and occult disciple—Jack Parsons stumbles onto a clandestine anti-Nazi group, including Surrealist theorist André Breton. In the strange games of the dissident diplomats, exiled revolutionaries, and avant-garde artists, Parsons finds and channels hope. But what he unwittingly unleashes is the power of dreams and nightmares, changing the war and the world forever.

1950. A lone Surrealist fighter, Thibaut, walks a new, hallucinogenic Paris, where Nazis and the Resistance are trapped in unending conflict, and the streets are stalked by living images and texts—and by the forces of Hell. To escape the city, he must join forces with Sam, an American photographer intent on recording the ruins, and make common cause with a powerful, enigmatic figure of chance and rebellion: the exquisite corpse.

But Sam is being hunted. And new secrets will emerge that will test all their loyalties—to each other, to Paris old and new, and to reality itself.

Praise for The Last Days of New Paris

“Beautiful, stunningly realized . . . [The Last Days of New Paris] is a brief vacation in alien latitudes, a midnight layover in an imaginary place.”—NPR

“A thoughtful, highbrow novella . . . Miéville’s self-assured style offers up a strong sense of humanity, while the strange Surrealist monsters give Last Days a fun and complementary mad-science component.”—USA Today

“[A] testament to the necessary, progressive power of art . . . Both moving and disturbingly timely.”—Newsday

“A novel both unhinged and utterly compelling, a kind of guerrilla warfare waged by art itself, combining both meticulous historical research and Miéville’s unparalleled inventiveness.”—Chicago Tribune 

“An extraordinarily original work that foregrounds Mieville’s considerable ingenuity and innovation.”—The Millions

“Hauntingly poetic, strangely beautiful, and erratically intense.”—San Francisco Book Review

“Dazzling . . . quite a feat.”—The Guardian
A mythmaker of the highest order, China Miéville has emblazoned the fantasy novel with fresh language, startling images, and stunning originality. Set in the same sprawling world of Miéville’s Arthur C. Clarke Award-winning novel, Perdido Street Station, this latest epic introduces a whole new cast of intriguing characters and dazzling creations.

Aboard a vast seafaring vessel, a band of prisoners and slaves, their bodies remade into grotesque biological oddities, is being transported to the fledgling colony of New Crobuzon. But the journey is not theirs alone. They are joined by a handful of travelers, each with a reason for fleeing the city. Among them is Bellis Coldwine, a renowned linguist whose services as an interpreter grant her passage—and escape from horrific punishment. For she is linked to Isaac Dan der Grimnebulin, the brilliant renegade scientist who has unwittingly unleashed a nightmare upon New Crobuzon.

For Bellis, the plan is clear: live among the new frontiersmen of the colony until it is safe to return home. But when the ship is besieged by pirates on the Swollen Ocean, the senior officers are summarily executed. The surviving passengers are brought to Armada, a city constructed from the hulls of pirated ships, a floating, landless mass ruled by the bizarre duality called the Lovers. On Armada, everyone is given work, and even Remades live as equals to humans, Cactae, and Cray. Yet no one may ever leave.

Lonely and embittered in her captivity, Bellis knows that to show dissent is a death sentence. Instead, she must furtively seek information about Armada’s agenda. The answer lies in the dark, amorphous shapes that float undetected miles below the waters—terrifying entities with a singular, chilling mission. . . .

China Miéville is a writer for a new era—and The Scar is a luminous, brilliantly imagined novel that is nothing short of spectacular.
A brilliant and moving coming-of-age story in the tradition of Wonder by R. J. Palacio and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon—this debut novel is written with tremendous humor and charm.
 
This is Alex’s story. But he doesn’t know exactly what it’s about yet, so you probably shouldn’t either.
 
Instead, here are some things that it’s sort of about (but not really):
 
It’s sort of (but not really) about brain surgery.
 
It’s sort of (but not really) about a hamster named Jaws 2 (after the original Jaws (who died), not the movie Jaws 2).
 
It’s sort of (but actually quite a lot) about Alex’s parents.
 
It’s sort of (but not really) about feeling ostrichized (which is a better word for excluded (because ostriches can’t fly so they often feel left out)).
 
It’s sort of (but not really (but actually, the more you think about it, kind of a lot)) about empathy (which is like sympathy only better), and also love and trust and fate and time and quantum mechanics and friendship and exams and growing up.
 
And it’s also sort of about courage. Because sometimes it actually takes quite a lot of it to bury your head in the sand.

Praise for Ostrich
 
“Irresistible! Ostrich is loaded with wit, charm, and wisdom. Alex is one of the sweetest and most inspiring narrators I’ve ever encountered. I dare you not to laugh, cry, and fall utterly in love.”—Maria Semple, New York Times bestselling author of Where’d You Go, Bernadette?

“A coming-of-age story of some brilliance . . . I laughed heartily, sobbed unexpectedly, and significantly improved my grammar.”—Nathan Filer, author of the Costa Book Award winner The Shock of the Fall

“One of the bravest novels I’ve read in a very long time. Matt Greene lets the reader become detective, and clue by clue we uncover not only the truth of Alex’s world, but the deepest truths of what it means to love and lose.”—Carol Rifka Brunt, author of Tell the Wolves I’m Home
 
“Ostrich has given me the most enjoyable reading experience I’ve had all year and has one of the funniest and most engaging young narrators I’ve had the pleasure of reading. Matt Greene is seriously funny and in Ostrich proves comedy can be the finest of arts.”—Matt Haig, author of The Humans
Introducing the second book in the The Enchanted Files! Told in diary entries and more, it's a new magical, modern-day comedy series by the master of funny fantasy and bestselling author of My Teacher is an Alien: Bruce Coville!
 
Meet Gerald. Gerald is a griffin—a creature with the body of a lion and the head of an eagle. According to the Code of the Griffins, that means he should be:
 
1. Brave and fierce in all situations!
2. A guardian of a great treasure!
3. Completely and totally hidden from the human realm!
 
But what if a Griffin ISN’T brave or fierce? What if he’s NEVER found a great treasure (or ANY treasure for that matter)? What if he feels like such an embarrassment that the only thing left to do is run away? And what if the only place no one will look for him is . . . the human world?
 
This laugh-out-loud adventure, full of humor and heart, is ideal for fans of Escape From Mr. Lemoncello’s Library or Chris Grabenstein.

"Hilarious. Middle-grade readers will be carried along by the buoyancy of the writing, the skillful design, and the humor on almost every page. Egg-ceptionally funny!"—Kirkus Reviews

"Coville brings his signature wit and humor to this fantasy story. This second installment adds authentic and engaging, multidimensional characters to a strong series that finds heroes in outcasts." –School Library Journal

 
Praise for Enchanted Files Book 1, Cursed:
 
* “Smart, amusing, and a lot of fun” —Booklist, Starred
 
“With magic, mischief, and mayhem to spare, this sweet story of an unlikely friendship ought to delight readers of any age.” —Publishers Weekly
 
“A knee-slapper.” —Kirkus Reviews
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