This Census-Taker

China Miéville

2017 Short-listed

Rathbones Folio Prize

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Picador

9781509812134
160
Synopsis

In a remote house on a hilltop, a lonely boy witnesses a 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?

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

In the media
A short, dark fairytale, Kafka rewritten by David Mitchell, and may well be the best thing you'll read all year.

Alex Preston, 'Fiction highlights for 2016' Guardian

Miéville's solid, world-creating imagination is shown to powerful effect in this novella . . . Superb.

Sunday Times

Harrowing beauty and existential disorientation . . . it's a Miéville book, after all . . . The interpretative stakes are high enough to give you a nosebleed.

Helen Oyeyemi The Week

Miéville's brain-twisting, inventive use of language pins the indefinable to the page, reading this slim book feels like gasping a lungful of air, holding it throughout the letting it out slowly, wondering what just happened. A challenging, thought-provoking read.

Metro