Book Review: The Memory Police by Yoko Ogawa

Blurb: A haunting Orwellian novel about the terrors of state surveillance, from the acclaimed author of The Housekeeper and the Professor.

Published: 13 August 2019 (first published in 1994)

Page length: 274

Review: The Memory Police is a dystopian novel about an island where things keep disappearing. Things like birds, emeralds, perfume, roses, fruits, calendars, and then finally even seasons and people’s body parts. The people have to adjust with it; those who do not and still keep their memories about the things that have disappeared get captured and taken away by The memory police.

The novel’s premise was intriguing to me. We never come to know any of the character’s names. The main character is an author and, the story alternates between current events and the story she was writing.
(The story the MC was writing was pretty intriguing too).

When she realizes that her editor R hasn’t forgotten his memories about the disappeared things, she hides him in an oubliette in her own house which, she furnishes with the help of the old man (MC’s nurse’s husband).

The writing and the story were gripping in the way that I did not want to put it down. It reminded me of 1984 as it also had sort of a big brother watching everyone. The ending was terrifying.

My issue with the book is that it is too vague. We never get answers to a lot of questions and the ending, thus, seemed dissatisfying to me. I wasn’t sure what to take away from it. It is an allegorical story but seemed almost like a horror novel at some points. Although multifaceted, it wasn’t my cup of tea.

Rating: 3/5🌟

I read a couple of reviews that said Yoko Ogawa’s other works are much better though compared to this one so I plan to pick them up at some point.

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