Book Review: The Memory Police by Yoko Ogawa

That was a very intriguing book.


That was a very intriguing book.

About the Book

Title: The Memory Police

Author: Yoko Ogawa

Published: 2019

Series: (standalone)

Genre: magical realism, dystopia, literary fiction

My Rating: 4/5 stars

The Premise

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.”

My Thoughts

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.

The Verdict

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!

If you liked this post, consider subscribing to Frappes & Fiction. I post about the books I read (even if they’re not fiction), the books I think YOU should read, and anything else on my mind.

(I’m also on social media!)

2 comments on “Book Review: The Memory Police by Yoko Ogawa”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.