British and Irish Literature China Miéville
Rob O'Connor
  • LAST MODIFIED: 28 July 2021
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199846719-0174


China Miéville is a British author and a significant writer of Fantastika fiction in the 21st century, his work showcasing a desire to write across a variety of different forms and genres. Miéville is associated with the writing of the New Weird movement, although he does not describe his work in this manner anymore. Born on 6 September 1972 in Norwich, UK, Miéville was brought up and has lived in London for much of his life. Miéville taught English in Egypt for a year before attending university. Here Miéville developed an interest in politics, especially Marxism and socialism, which continues to influence his academic life and creative work. After studying social anthropology at Cambridge, Miéville gained a master’s in 1995 and a PhD in international relations from the London School for Economics in 2001. Miéville found his own political viewpoint being drawn firmly toward Marxism due to feeling dissatisfied with the postmodern theories he was exposed to during his studies. Miéville’s first novel, King Rat, was published in 1998, but it was the following Bas-Lag trilogy (Perdido Street Station, The Scar, and Iron Council) that cemented his reputation as a writer. Miéville wrote Perdido Street Station alongside his PhD studies. His work has won many awards, including the Hugo Award for The City & The City, the Arthur C. Clarke Award an unprecedented three times, the British Fantasy Award twice, and Locus Awards four times across different categories. Miéville has been the guest of honor at multiple conventions and conferences, was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in Fiction in 2018, and has held positions in both politics and creative writing in UK and US higher education institutions. Socialist politics is a constant theme throughout Miéville’s biography and creative work. Miéville was previously a member of the Socialist Workers Party in the United Kingdom, leaving the party in 2013 in disgust at the leadership’s attempted suppression and refusal to deal with rape allegations against a party member. He stood for election as a candidate for the Socialist Alliance in the 2001 general election for the constituency of Regent’s Park and Kensington North. Alive with creative world-building and experimental representations of monstrous bodies, Miéville’s work challenges the borders between categorization and presents genres as literary spaces that can be both politically engaging and socially relevant.

General Overviews

Even though Miéville has a strong reputation among genre communities, not many full-length volumes of Miéville-focused criticism are available. This section highlights some introductions to Miéville’s fiction that readers and scholars will find as a useful overview of Miéville’s themes, politics, and approaches. Edwards and Venezia 2015 is a useful volume in terms of scope, with several scholars providing input on a variety of themes within Miéville’s work. Freedman 2015 also looks at a scope of subjects and, more significantly, each chapter focuses on a separate book from Miéville’s oeuvre, making it a very accessible format. Clute 2020 provides a useful starting point for consideration of Miéville’s biography and his contribution to genre fictions. VanderMeer and VanderMeer 2008 is a significant evaluation of the New Weird movement, so strongly associated with Miéville. Vint 2009 was the first Miéville-centric scholarly collection and remains an excellent evaluation of his earlier work. A second special issue is surely warranted. The Rejectamentalist Manifesto blog provides valuable insight into Miéville’s thought processes.

  • Clute, John. “China Miéville.” In The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction. Edited by John Clute, David Langford, Peter Nicholls, and Graham Sleight. n. p.: Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, 2020.

    Clute’s entry on China Miéville is a useful assessment of his work to date, with extensive links to subjects, themes, and other areas of interest that appear within Miéville’s work. Clute provides brief but succinct examination of Miéville’s novels and presents a useful, foundational overview from which to expand.

  • Cramer, Kathryn. The New Weird Archives.

    An archive of an important discussion from April 2003 regarding the definitions of the New Weird movement, started by the author M. John Harrison on his The Third Alternative message board. Many authors and critics joined the conversation, discussing tropes, motifs, and literary style of the New Weird. Miéville gets involved in the debate and many other contributors cite Miéville’s work as a prototype for the movement.

  • Edwards, Caroline, and Tony Venezia, eds. China Miéville: Critical Essays. Canterbury, UK: Gylphi Limited, 2015.

    A book-length collection of essays focusing on Miéville’s work and its central themes. Edwards and Venezia highlight Miéville’s taxonomic playfulness with an “UnIntroduction” that effectively summarizes the three key subjects of Miéville’s work: exploration of genre fluidity through application of the Weird, psychogeographical exploration of the urban, and sociopolitical commentary regarding revolution and utopia. A detailed, critical analysis of Miéville’s oeuvre.

  • Freedman, Carl. Art and Idea in the Novels of China Miéville. Canterbury, UK: Gylphi Limited, 2015.

    The first one-author, full-length exploration of Miéville’s work, Freedman’s book establishes Miéville as not only one of the most relevant writers in modern fiction but also the important relationship in his work between fantastic literature and contemporary politics. In each chapter, Freedman focuses on one specific Miéville novel and uses it to critically engage with various themes such as Marxism, imperialism, revolution, and language.

  • Miéville, China. The Rejectamentalist Manifesto.

    The closest thing to a dedicated author website, The Rejectamentalist Manifesto is a blog where Miéville deposits thoughts and extracts from discarded pieces or work in progress. Sporadic posting means that it is not an accurate reflection of Miéville’s developing portfolio. However, the website does have some fascinating fragments to consider and was also where London’s Overthrow and some of his stories from Three Moments of an Explosion were first made available.

  • VanderMeer, Ann, and Jeff VanderMeer, eds. The New Weird. San Francisco: Tachyon, 2008.

    The canonical anthology of the New Weird movement, Ann and Jeff VanderMeer’s book uses the 2003 M. John Harrison conversation on the New Weird as a starting point and presents influences, current examples, and academic essays about the movement. The anthology contains a reprinting of Miéville’s short story “Jack” (from Looking for Jake and Other Stories), and Perdido Street Station is highlighted as the flashpoint of the movement’s growing popularity.

  • Vint, Sherryl, ed. Special Issue: China Miéville. Extrapolation 50.2 (Summer 2009).

    An insightful and relevant analysis of Miéville’s work can be found in this special issue of the science fiction journal Extrapolation. Edited by Sherryl Vint, the articles in this special issue cover all the pertinent themes of Miéville’s work to date, such as capitalism, fantasy world building, urbanism, hauntology, socialism, and revolution.

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