Saturday, 12 September 2020

Book Review: The Memory Police by Ogawa Youko (Science Fiction / Dystopian)

Title: The Memory Police
Author: Ogawa Youko
Publisher: Harvill Secker
Publication Date: 2019 (1994)
Pages: 277
Format: Paperback
Genre: Science Fiction / Dystopian
Source: Borrowed from the Library

Hat, ribbon, bird, rose. To the people on the island, a disappeared thing no longer has any meaning. It can be burned in the garden, thrown in the river or handed over to the Memory Police. Soon enough, the island forgets it ever existed.

When a young novelist discovers that her editor is in danger of being taken away by the Memory Police, she desperately wants to save him. For some reason, he doesn’t forget, and it’s becoming increasingly difficult for him to hide his memories. Who knows what will vanish next?


The Memory Police is an interesting blend of Orwellian dystopia with a Murukami-style magical realism. I enjoyed the concept of the book and the lyrical, otherworldly feel of the prose. The story raised many thought-provoking questions, but where it fell down a little for me was the fact it also raised too many other questions. I was pulled out of the story a number of times wondering about the mechanics/logistics of some of the disappearances. I wanted a little more explanation for why/how it was happening, and that kept me detached from the characters and their situation.  Nonetheless this is still a 4-star read for me as it was an intriguing work and, questions aside, an enjoyable story and concept. I would certainly be interested to read further works by Ogawa Youko.

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