The Memory Police
By: Yoko Ogawa
Book 70/100 Pages: 274
This is the first of Yoko Ogawa’s work that I’ve read, and I feel I’ve been missing out. The story begins a somber dystopia that slowly twists and turns into a surreal haunting of a sense of ones self. Ogawa’s writing appears simple but offers no immediate answers leaving many things open-ended. She is able to say more without actually saying it. .
The story begins on an island, off the coast, all unnamed. Objects are continually disappearing at an alarming rate; hats, birds, flowers until people are just vanishing. There are few who recall these lost objects but live in fear of the Memory Police, an authoritarian fascist group committed to ensuring that which has disappeared remains forgotten. A young novelist, struggling to maintain her career, protects her editor who is in danger, and cling to her writing as a way of remembering these forgotten pasts.
This particular story feels relevant today, our collective accumulations from yesterday are quickly swallowed whole by today’s outrage and hypocrisy. A haunting tale that reads much like Orwell’s 1984, giving plenty of source material for further contemplation and discussion. Ogawa crafted a terrifying dystopian setting that leaves you feeling melancholic. I look forward to reading more of her work, especially her novel Revenge.