The Memory Police / Yoko Ogawa

Title / The Memory Police
Author / Yoko Ogawa
Publication Date / 2019
Page no. / 288
Overall Rating / 


Originally written in Japanese and published in 1994, this edition is translated by Stephen Snyder and published this year. It is set on a unnamed island and is narrated by an unnamed woman. The closet we get to a name is a character referred to as R. On this island things have been disappearing and, once gone, these things lose their meaning to the people of the island. The Memory Police enforces these disappearances by removing all traces of it. There are a few people that remember the things that have disappeared and, if found, these people are taken by the Memory police and never seen again.
The protagonist is an unnamed young novelist and the main plot line follows her attempt at hiding her editor from the Memory police, because he is one of the few that retains all his memories. While there is a main plot point that runs through the book, there are smaller ones that run tangentially to the main story. At the heart of this book is the importance of memory and how our experiences shape who we are. It also looks at how easily control can be exerted on people who can’t remember things differently. I found it to be an interesting read and quite unnerving at times. The writing is great and I found myself immersed in the book from very early on.
There are quite a few unanswered questions, such as how the Memory police were formed and what their true purpose is, other than complete control of the island. While it would have been interesting to know more about this and the history of the island, I think the lack of this information adds a certain level of mystery to it, which consequently adds to the level of eeriness of it too.
Overall this was a great read and I would definitely recommend checking it out. I know this review is on the shorter side but I didn’t want to give too much away in this review. This is my first book by this author but after enjoying this I want to read some of her other works. In particular, I want to read The Housekeeper and the Professor. Have you read this book? I’d love to know what you thought. I hope you are all having a wonderful day and I will see you next time.
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