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The Memory Police

The Memory Police

Book - 2019
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"A deft and dark Orwellian novel about the terrors of state surveillance, from the acclaimed author of The Housekeeper and the Professor On an unnamed island off an unnamed coast, things are disappearing. First, animals and flowers. Then objects--ribbons, bells, photographs. Then, body parts. Most of the island's inhabitants fail to notice these changes, while those few imbued with the power to recall the lost objects live in fear of the mysterious 'memory police,' who are committed to ensuring that the disappeared remain forgotten. When a young novelist realizes that more than her career is in danger, she hides her editor beneath her floorboards, and together, as fear and loss close in around them, they cling to literature as the last way of preserving the past. Part allegory, part literary thriller, The Memory Police is a stunning new work from one of the most exciting contemporary authors writing in any language"--
Publisher: New York :, Pantheon Books,, [2019]
Edition: First American edition
ISBN: 9781101870600
Branch Call Number: Fiction
Characteristics: 274 pages ; 22 cm
Additional Contributors: Snyder, Stephen 1957-- Translator


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Apr 30, 2021

This is very Orwellian as the short summary blurb insists: very dystopian, lots of authoritarianism, lots of loss. I am really into the almost lyrical quality of Ogawa’s work as she transports readers to a mysterious town where everyday objects are starting to disappear. I was wondering if this was a metaphor for actual loss of memories at times (like neurodegenerative diseases). It is dark but not exactly Stephen King-esque. Some of what tempers the dark qualities of the novel are the humble characters who bond together in order to remember. My favorite memory of this book is a small gathering of friends who celebrate a birthday (yes, cake is involved). Memories are truly sacred in this community, and the memory police won’t stop the erasure at just objects. Both haunting, and insightful, this novel falls in between something which mirrors current issues to one that foretells what is to come.

Mar 11, 2021

While The Memory Police is a very interesting dystopic take, the writing style is rather distant/removed and the story feels like it moves too slowly and too quickly at the same time. Definitely suggest giving this novel a once-over - it would be very interesting to discuss as part of a book club - but I don't think it requires a second glance.

JCLAMYK Feb 25, 2021

A melancholic dystopian tale. I loved it as it isn’t your normal dystopian society.

SFPL_danielay Jan 29, 2021

An isolated island community has to deal with the disappearance of words in this thought-provoking novel. How does a community deal with these losses, e.g. a beautiful rose garden that has to be destroyed once the word "rose" disappears, as well as with the few people who are able to remember the lost things?

Jan 26, 2021

This novel was otherworldly and the premise was interesting. I found the writing (and perhaps this is more of a translation issue) to be cringeworthy in spots and I was very disgruntled with the lack of clarity on how the island came to be, it left a sour taste for the book for me.

Oct 12, 2020

I'm sad to say that overall I didn't enjoy this dystopian novel very much. After reading and really liking Ogawa's The Housekeeper and the Professor (written almost 10 years after The Memory Police) I was eager to pick up another of her books again centered around the topic of memory. The premise sounded intriguing and it started out well, but the more I read the less satisfied I felt. It's a quiet, melancholy story and it was some beautiful passages, but it just left too many questions unanswered which kind of makes me question the whole point of the story. I also don’t think that the 'story in the story' element added much to the whole experience apart from reinforcing the main idea of quiet disappearance. Some plot bits also felt I bit contradicting to me (like how she managed to remember some words of disappeared things while others didn't ring any bells) and the overwhelming passivity to the point of indifference of the people (despite the safe houses and the fact some of them tried to hide and escape).
All in all, this one missed the mark for me a bit although I can see why some people liked it so much just as a fable and allegory of memory and loss.

Sep 04, 2020

'Memory Police' feels perfect for the pandemic state of mind. The locked down lives people are leading, following government recommendations, make the premise of disappearances and the Memory Police not so far from reality.

Apr 12, 2020

A fable, an allegory.

JCLS_Ashland_Kristin Mar 25, 2020

The pace is slow and dreamy...this magically real novel made me think and will stick with me for a while.

Jan 12, 2020

An Orwellian novel of state surveillance, but with some interesting twists.

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