Whenever I see a new book by China Miéville, I panic. I remember reading an interview with the great novelist in which he said he gave up work in order to write. If you have a job, you can’t write. I suppose if you are a revolutionary socialist from hippy parents you can get away with this. But as it turned out, he now makes a very good living from his writing. And I, who gave up being a writer in order to advance the collapse of global capitalism through my efforts in the lower echelons of the banking industry, have to be content with only the partial success of my revolutionary goals, as seen in the recent international banking crisis.
The reason I panic when I see another one of China’s books is that it reminds me how busy my life has become. Too busy to do what I enjoy. I would like to read all his books but I’ve only read two of them. I wish he would slow down and publish them less frequently. Not that he rushes, I’m sure, for his books are exquisite works of art.
When I first read one of China’s books, I was sure his name was a fabrication. I thought he might even be a professional consortium. It didn’t seem natural that any one man should know so many fine words, have such a terrific imagination and yet have such a masterful grasp of structure.
But I was wrong.
My parents were hippies, and the story is that they went through a dictionary looking for a beautiful word to name me. They nearly called me Banyan, but flipped a few pages on and reached “China,” thankfully. The other reason they liked it is that “china” is Cockney rhyming slang for “mate.” People say “my old china,” meaning “my old mate,” because “china plate” rhymes with “mate.”
So China is real. His books are real. And every time I see another one I panic.