The Memory Police
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Format: Print book
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Availability: 10 copies available, 3947 people requesting
Giveaway dates: Oct 13 - Oct 25, 2019
Countries available: U.S.
First published in Japan 25 years ago, and newly available in English translation, this novel has a timeless feel. The inhabitants of an unnamed island, living under an oppressive regime, experience a form of collective, gradual, amnesia. Upon waking, a seemingly random item - roses, birds, boats - will begin to fa ...more
Who we are strongly depends on our past experiences and the reality that has surrounded us, so what happens if, bit by bit, this reality is made to disappear, and with it the memories ingrained in our hearts? In Yoko Ogawa's highly allegorical novel, the enigmatic "memory police" is controlling the population of a remote island, subjugating the inhabitants by continually forcing them to destroy and forget things like roses, ...more
At first glance, The Memory Police, originally published in Japan in 1994 and now available in an excellent English translation, looks like a descendant of George Orwell's. Set on an unnamed island, objects are routinely "disappeared", both physically and also in the minds of the people. One day birds disappear. The next day it could be a type of candy. Anyone who dares to keep disappeared items is in danger. Those who actually remember them are in bigger danger. The Memory Police, cla ...more
Told in a way ...more
It wasn't too long after starting this book before I noticed something strange about it. By page 98, it hit me that for a story labeled as "Orwellian," it was written in a surprisingly quiet tone. Without discounting the bizarre events recounted in this book, the understated style alone was actually disturbing in its own right, and I experienced a sort of weird off-kilteredness throughout the story.
Actually, the book works on two very different levels. The "O ...more
An unnamed woman lives on an island that's losing objects, one at a time.
As the story opens many things - like ribbons, stamps, gems, hats, bells, perfume, candies, and boats - have disappeared. Once an item is gone, the islanders lose all knowledge of it, and no longer recognize it or know its purpose.
Exceptions to residents with mass amnesia are a small number of citizens who can remember everything. One of these 'rememberers' was the woman's mother. When the woman was young, her mother wo ...more
The book takes place on an island. Little by little, things begin to vanish, one by one—"transparent thi ...more
A few years ago I enjoyed Ogawa's short story collection Revenge but I should have given more consideration to this line in my review of it : reading equivalent of looking at miniature surrealist still life paintings . It is now apparent that I can only handle my surrealism in tiny brushstrokes because blown up to the size of a novel this languid, ps ...more
Silence fell around us all, as through we were steeling ourselves for the next disappearance, which would no doubt come — perhaps even tomorrow. So it was that evening came to the island.
The Memory Police has been translated by Stephen Synder from Yōko Ogawa's 1994 original. As with Revenge, Synder's translation is excellent, with prose that is simple yet powerful, although again as with Revenge the title has been changed in Engli/>Silence ...more
On an unnamed island, things are changing. Objects vanish from memory, one following another, no timescale, no discernible pattern. The sinister Memory Police watch over it all, ready to intervene should people remember. Memories might go quietly, but things with mass, with weight, people have to be r ...more
The premise is this: on an unnamed island, things sometimes “disappear”. If the islanders don’t rid themselves of the things that disappear, the Memory Police may raid their house to take the items away. Eventually the people forget all about the disappeared-thing (for example, if flowers disa ...more
But this is no simple tale. It offers a kaleidoscopic view of how power can control daily l ...more
“But our memories were diminishing day by day, for when something disappeared from the island, all memory of it vanished, too.”
The Memory Police reminded me of a book I recently read, called Amatka. Given that the former was first published in 1994 and the latter is a fairly recent release I wouldn't be surprised to discover that Karin Tidbeck had read Yōko Ogawa's novel. Similarities to Amatka aside, I still felt an odd sense of familiarity while I was being first introduced to the weird world of The/> ...more
The novel is set in a fictional and unnamed island (one can’t help but presume it uncannily brings ...more
But this is a Japanese novel — so for anyone looking for thrills, I'd like to warn you that despite the tagline " ...more
This was SFX mag sf recommend book of complex contemporary classic in style of 1984 & Brave New World a dark world of thought.
Memory control a nightmare for anybody but here it is trying to hide in room full of unthought full mindless minds while the Police stand ready to wi ...more
The sense of dark, quiet foreboding is a soliloquy on today's internet culture, on our collective experiences and amnesias and amputations. The murk, the apathy, the disappearance of self is an allegory and a warning.
It's so astounding to me that this was originally written 25 years ago, in a time where the internet as we know i ...more
"'Maybe because you write novels, you come up with these extreme ideas . . . No, I'm sorry, that's rude--maybe I should say grand ideas. Isn't that what it means to be a novelist? To come up with grand stories?
-'Well, I suppose so," I mumbled in turn. 'But I'm not talking about stories. This is real--'"
There is always a feeling one gets when finishing a good book. For myself, the feeling was simply to be able to find a book I wanted to read. In April of this year (2019) I read a New York Times article showcasing boIllapu'Maybe ...more
The novel is set in a dystopian world where items and physical parts of the world are “disappeared” in a very literal sense - as they disappear, so too does the memory of them for people. Well, most people. There are Memory Police that monitor the disappearances and “correct” situations where people do not lose their memories as intended.
It is such a peculiar concept in abstract, particularly as ...more
That's the basic premise of Ogawa's eerie novel. What begins with an unnamed narrator and her unnamed mother together at a set of drawers, where the mother asks her daughter to choose a drawer to discover something magic (perfume!), we learn that on this unnamed island, The Memory Police can make anything -- or anyone -- disappear whenever they'd like. Roses, birds, and perfume are among the things we learn that are disappeare ...more
The writing and the translation (done, I believe, by Stephen Snyder) are beautifully done. It doesn’t seem like anything special at first, and I don’t recall any passages that made me think: ‘I need to save this for my review!’. But at the same time it kept me consistently engaged despite the slow pacing and plot. It whisked me away and offered me an escape. Al/>The ...more
Rating: 3.5 stars
Usually on a 3.5 stars I round it down to 3 stars out of 5, but I'm making an exception for this one because I absolutely couldn't put this book down. Once I'd gotten started, I was reading it at work in between orders, and stood i/> ...more
I previously loved reading a collection of Yoko Ogawa's short stories, Revenge, so enthusiastically grabbed my copy of The Memory Police when it appeared on NetGalley. The novel was first published in Japanese twenty-five years ago and has only just been translated into English - an amazingly good job by the talented Stephen Snyder. The Memory Police is the novel that I had hoped If Cats Disappeared From The World would be - dark, mysteri ...more