In Paris, during the early days of the Nazi occupation, a young American schooled in the occult symbolist morphologies of Crowley and company infiltrates the enclave of French Surrealists holed up in city center. He finds them ensconced in a kind of internal exile, playing at resistance by ignoring the Nazis and pretending they are the gatekeepers and caretakers of the essential Paris. Breton, Varo, Lamba, others. The American has brought a device–Americans have always been good at devices—which, in one frenetic evening, manages to capture the surrealist essence of these imagineers and store. The “battery” is conceivably a tremendous weapon with which to fight the Nazis, but it is stolen, and then in at the end of a series of tragic inevitabilities, explodes, unleashing the transformative power it contains on the very fabric of Paris. The novel is riddled with Surrealist quotes, riffs, nods, and inspirations. This is an alternate history built on the notion that imagination and art can be as brutally decisive in war as any martial technology—but that the deployment of such visions must be done with care. Absolutely (!) superb, a striking triumph. -Mark's November Staff Pick, 2016
A thriller of war that never was--of survival in an impossible city--of surreal cataclysm. In The Last Days of New Paris, China Mieville 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 Andre 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 . . . Mieville'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 Mieville's unparalleled inventiveness."--Chicago Tribune
About the Author
China Mieville is the author of numerous books, including This Census-Taker, Three Moments of an Explosion, Railsea, Embassytown, Kraken, The City & The City, and Perdido Street Station. His works have won the World Fantasy Award, the Hugo Award, and the Arthur C. Clarke Award (three times). He lives and works in London.