Kath's Reviews > The Memory Police

The Memory Police by Yōko Ogawa
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really liked it

3.5 stars, rounded up.
Even several days after finishing this book I'm still not quite sure how I feel about it. It's set on a remote island where things are disappeared. Birds, hats, roses all cease to exist as people wake up and they then have a short time to destroy any they still possess. In time it's like these things never existed at all. There are some people however who retain the ability to remember about them, there are also some who try and keep disappeared things. And it is the job of the Memory Police to track these people down and punish them.
Our main protagonist is a young unnamed author who discovers that her, also unnamed, editor is one who remembers and is in danger of being taken. With the assistance of her friend, an unnamed old man, she helps her editor hide. As life gets harder as food and other necessary things get scarcer, and with so many more things being disappeared, can our trio of heroes survive the test of the time?
My first concern with this book is that there is no explanation for actually why things get disappeared. All we know is that the book is set on a remote island with no contact with outside, especially since the ferry was disappeared. Who decides what goes and when and to what ultimate end? There are obviously repercussions to every disappearance, especially the ones after calendars are taken but I really struggled with accepting the concept without understanding it fully. Maybe it was obvious to others, maybe I missed some key things during reading - but, if so, they were quite well hidden and maybe a bit too subtle. I get that it's about memories and possibly about materialism and, definitely, about the human condition but I think I might have missed the overall point.
The ending also fizzled out a bit for me and I was left a bit unfulfilled. That said, the journey getting there was good, the writing, the characters and their stories did hold my attention. As did the "book within the book" which ran well alongside the main narrative.
As with all good translations, I have nothing to say about the translator as, to use my usual analogy, like a good sport referee, if you don't notice their existence, they've done a good job.
My thanks go to the Publisher and Netgalley for the chance to read this book.
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Reading Progress

Started Reading
August 6, 2019 – Finished Reading
August 12, 2019 – Shelved

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