This census-taker

a novella

210 pages

English language

Published Nov. 8, 2016 by Del Rey.

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3 stars (1 review)

"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 Mieville. 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"--

"After his mother goes missing, a boy is left alone in a remote house …

5 editions

Review of 'This Census-Taker' on 'Goodreads'

3 stars

I feel like such a fake sometimes. I say stuff like, "I like eerie, atmospheric books," and think that there's nothing inherently wrong with an unreliable narrator or open endings. And yet when I read a story like this that has all three I'm just left thinking: wow, this was not for me!

Definitely a unique, lonely, and melancholic book. Kind of gave me James and the Giant Peach/Coraline/Series of Unfortunate Events-kind of vibes with respect to children in strange environments and an innate distrust of adults, especially parents. It's not necessarily a coming-of-age story so much as an adult man reflecting back on an unusual period of his childhood, but it feels like so little dramatic action is actually happening that I never felt unease or tension. It also has a fairly abrupt ending, which really got me because the last twenty pages or so of the physical book …