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This Census-Taker

3.31 based on 3480 ratings & 683 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 is a poignant and riveting exploration of memory and identity.

In the media

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.
A stark and subtle fable that manages to be both lapidary and nebulous at the same time. "Haunting" does not do justice to its exquisitely eerie properties . . . This is the most poetic of Miéville's books so far . . . It can be appreciated just for its complex psychology and emotional impact - it is by far his most plangent book, suffused with a tight-lipped melancholy.
Scotland on Sunday
Gripping and tantalisingly elusive . . . akin to trying to remember an important yet only half-understood event.