This Census-Taker

China Miéville

2017 Nominee

Rathbones Folio Prize

23 February 2017
160 pages


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.

A short, dark fairytale, Kafka rewritten by David Mitchell, and may well be the best thing you'll read all year.
Miéville's solid, world-creating imagination is shown to powerful effect in this novella . . . Superb.
Harrowing beauty and existential disorientation . . . it's a Miéville book, after all . . . The interpretative stakes are high enough to give you a nosebleed.