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This Census-Taker

by China Mieville

Set in an unnamed, possibly European - possibly imaginary, country. A young boy, also unnamed, tries to escape from a brutal father. That brutality may also be imagined. It could all be a fantasy but the terror is real and exacerbated by the strange geographical terrain where the boy lives. Weird and wonderful. First time reading this author - will definitely be up for discovering more.

Extract

I knew that, by whatever means he'd killed it, it was not to eat. I wanted to cry; I stood still ....
My father passed me. He looked briefly at me as you might at a stump or a broken machine or anything that's specific only in that it's in your way, to walk around it as my father did me. I knew he was taking the dead bird to the rubbish hole, that he'd throw it up so it would curve as it had to and descend; I knew that day my father was feeding only the darkness.

Parallels

Expiration Date by Tim Powers
 

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