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The Memory Police by Yōko Ogawa Book review


The Memory Police by Yōko Ogawa Book review

The Memory Police by Yoko Ogawa Book review 

The memory police by Yoko Ogawa and this is translated into English by — probably should've looked at this beforehand — Stephen Synder. 

So this is a pretty new release. I think it just came out last month and I ended up picking this up partially because I was interested in it and partially because August was women in translation month. 

And so I figured perfect time to pick it up. So this is a dystopian novel but I feel like calling it a dystopian novel kind of does it a disservice. Although it technically is one. 

But I think calling it a dystopian puts a very specific idea into a reader's head, or at least it put a very specific idea into my head. So this story takes place on this unknown, unnamed Island. 

The residents of this island live in a world where things are slowly disappearing. For example, at the beginning of the story, roses are no longer a thing. So the people on this island start to forget what roses are. 

They forget the word. They forget like what the physical object is, what it meant to them. If they had memories of roses at all, it starts to disappear. And then they're all forced to get rid of any roses. 

So there are these people called the memory police who go through and destroy any versions of that object that might exist anywhere on this island. So if you have pictures of that thing or you have that thing or anything along those lines, the memory police will come and take it all away. 

So a number of things have started to-- have disappeared over time. But there are a handful of people on this island who for some reason still remember all of the objects that have gone missing and those people usually end up getting arrested and taken away by the memory police. 

And no one is really sure why this is happening. So the main character that you're following in this story is an author and she is writing a book. And it turns out that her editor is someone who is wanted by the memory police. 

And when she was younger, her mother actually got taken away by the memory police. And so in order to make sure that she doesn't lose her editor, she ends up basically hiding him away in this makeshift room that she makes in her house in order to hide him from the memory police. 

And you kind of follow the story along as more objects start disappearing. And slowly you see how this starts to impact everything around them. 

So yeah, that's basically all I'm gonna do in terms of synopsis. Going back to kind of what I was saying before, the way this book is being kind of marketed is like very Orwellian in nature and stuff like that. 

And I think because there are these things called the memory police, it's giving off kind of a 1984-esque vibe in terms of like the marketing. But that's not really what this book is about or like.

This is really a book about trauma and loss, and you can take it to the level of like dictatorships and oppressive governments and things like that and removing stuff like that. 

But it's kind of this like quiet rumination on memories and what memories mean to a person and sort of what you do when those small little things that meant so much in your life start to disappear. 

It's also like rumination on community and support and kind of the friendships and bonds that are formed in these types of environments. 

So if you go into this like having read a lot of dystopian and specifically a lot of dystopian that are written in like a Western perspective, you're gonna want this book to explain sort of the whys and how's a lot more, or at least that's how I felt. 

I went into this wanting to know sort of like why were things disappearing and how does this world function and how does the memory police sort of operate and sort of what happens to these people who are disappearing. 

And you have a lot of whys and hows, but those are not the questions that this book is trying to answer. It's more about the what happens next or what happens around those situations. 

And so it's less about the environment and more about the people reacting in those situations, which is a really interesting concept, and it took me a second for my brain to sort of shift into that. 

And once my brain shifted into that, I really, really enjoyed this book a lot. But I kind of want to like do this book review partially to talk about this book because I enjoyed it, but partially also because I think people are gonna go into this expecting something and this book isn't meant to be that thing. 

The writing in here is really, really beautiful. I think that this is a really fantastic translation. Like a lot of Japanese literature that I've read at least, it's again very quiet and very surreal at times and it has like this slight existential nature, which might just be a sort of side effect from being a dystopian novel that's asking all these questions. 

I think that this is a book that, at least for me, made me think a lot about sort of death and sort of more apocalyptic situations where things are slowly disappearing. 

I think that especially like reading it with recent news events about like the Amazon burning and like things disappearing from our environment at a really high rate because of you know climate change, 

This book makes me think a lot about the things that we have in this world that we take advantage of that might be gone sooner than we think and sort of what the impacts of that are. It also made me think a lot about sort of legacies and things like that. 

There's a lot of things in this book about sort of the memories of people and the stories we tell around people and things and how that sort of keeps them going beyond them or it disappearing and stuff like that.

 And so I feel like it's a book that you're meant to ruminate over and you're meant to just sort of like think in a broader sense than just have this like sort of potentially action-packed dystopian novel or anything like that. 

So yeah, this is not a book that I necessarily like adored with all of my heart or anything like that. But I think that this is a really good book to make you think about things that you otherwise might not think about. 

And I think for that alone this is worth picking up. So yeah, I think I gave this like a three and a half out of five stars. 

I think the adjustment period unfortunately like played a toll in terms of how much I ended up enjoying this book. But, again, the questions that it makes you think about are really fantastic. 

Also read: Fizban's Treasury of Dragons

Also read: Hot Vampire Next Door by Nikki St. Crowe

Also read: Marriage For One by Ella Maise 

Also read: Sinful Demon King by Nikki St. Crowe 

Also read:  Tasha's Cauldron of Everything 



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