That was a very intriguing book.
About the Book
Title: The Memory Police
Author: Yoko Ogawa
Genre: magical realism, dystopia, literary fiction
My Rating: 4/5 stars
Synopsis (from Goodreads) (truncated):
“On an unnamed island off an unnamed coast, objects are disappearing: first hats, then ribbons, birds, roses—until things become much more serious. Most of the island’s inhabitants are oblivious to these changes, while those few imbued with the power to recall the lost objects live in fear of the draconian Memory Police, who are committed to ensuring that what has disappeared remains forgotten.
When a young woman who is struggling to maintain her career as a novelist discovers that her editor is in danger from the Memory Police, she concocts a plan to hide him beneath her floorboards. As fear and loss close in around them, they cling to her writing as the last way of preserving the past.”
The Memory Police takes place on an unnamed island where every so often objects “disappear.” They literally disappear, and then gradually fade from the memories of the people on the island.
“My memories don’t feel as though they’ve been pulled up by the root. Even if they fade, something remains. Like tiny seeds that might germinate again if the rain falls. And even if a memory disappears completely, the heart retains something. A slight tremor or pain, some bit of joy, a tear.”
The disappearances are enforced by the authoritarian Memory Police, and anyone who is unaffected by the mechanism by which memories are erased are hunted down by the Memory Police and never reappear.
The main character and narrator of the book is a novelist, and the story follows her as she hides her editor in her house from the Memory Police.
The book has a very eerie, surrealist feeling, which was intensified by the vagueness and dreamlike quality of the story. It doesn’t seem to take place in our world, and yet, it does.
Themes of loss, control, and memory are at the center. And the ending was surprisingly disturbing.
I was not sure what to expect from The Memory Police when I picked it up from the library, but it was really interesting and I would recommend it if you’re looking for some unusual speculative fiction.
Have you read The Memory Police by Yoko Ogawa? If so, what did you think of it? Feel free to leave a comment!
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