In the tradition of Italo Calvino's Invisible Cities, debut author S. Qiouyi Lu has written a multifaceted story of borders, power, diaspora, and transformation with In the Watchful City. The city of Ora is watching. Anima is an extrasensory human tasked with surveilling and protecting Ora's citizens via a complex living network called the Gleaming. Although ær world is restricted to what æ can see and experience through the Gleaming, Anima takes pride and comfort in keeping Ora safe from harm. When a mysterious outsider enters the city carrying a cabinet of curiosities from around with the world with a story attached to each item, Anima's world expands beyond the borders of Ora to places--and possibilities--æ never before imagined to exist. But such knowledge leaves Anima with a question that throws into doubt ær entire purpose: What good is a city if it can't protect its people?
S. Qiouyi Lu’s In the Watchful City comes billed as a novella, but that’s too neat for a book that seeks to push the limits of form ... In the Watchful City unfolds as a series of nested narratives ... Lu is an exhilarating writer ... exquisite.
... compact but deep and colorful ... The novella has a very nice, classic structure and engine ... The embedded stories are all richly rewarding and self-contained ... The organic interweaving of all these threads succeeds in many ways ... Tactilely and sensually, Lu makes their unique culture a living creation, with lots of vivid descriptions of light, food, surfaces, textures and such, as when Anima, running a dog, surfs through a fragrant bazaar.
S. Qiouyi Lu’s richly imagined debut novella In The Watchful City sings an intricate symphony, brimming with cleverness and ache ... In the Watchful City is a sharp, glittering jewel, each mirrored facet shining brilliantly. Thrilling, tender, and alive with possibility, it is a deeply rewarding read, and I’m very excited to read ær future works. This is a tour de force that strengthens Lu’s position as one of the most skilled writers of the speculative genre.