Released on 25 February 2016.

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This Census-Taker

3.32 based on 4057 ratings & 769 reviews on

2017 Short-listed

Rathbones Folio Prize


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.

In the media

This Census-Taker is the book you read when you're looking for something that will haunt your dreams for weeks (or months) after you put it down. It is a grown-up fairy tale with a black and murderous heart, about a boy convinced that his father is a murderer. One of China Miéville's greatest strengths is his ability to see his imaginary worlds through the eyes of his characters, not of his readers . . . This is Miéville at his most sparse, his most controlled and restrained
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.
Gripping and tantalisingly elusive . . . akin to trying to remember an important yet only half-understood event.