This Census-Taker


China Miéville

First Sentence:     A boy ran down a hill path screaming.

Back of the book:

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 by China Miéville is a poignant and riveting exploration of memory and identity.

Quotes from the book:

‘Below that there’s a mess of scrawled, rejected, reworked, written and rewritten, arranged-just-so and finally accepted lines.’

He didn’t know what if anything it was his mother got from his father’s company. They lived together and passed each other every day and spoke a little to each other when they had to without viciousness or rancour but, so far as the boy saw and so far as he ever remembered, without pleasure or interest. From his father there was always a distant desperation.

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Last Sentence:     One of the rises must have been the hill, with its counter-hill, and its bridge, from where I’d come, from which my manager and I were just newly descended.