Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Reader's Diary #2126- Yoko Ogawa, translated by Stephen Snyder: The Memory Police

Yoko Ogawa's The Memory Police had such an unusual premise that I was entranced. Essentially there's an island on which things randomly start disappearing. Not disappearing exactly but rather start being erased from memory and followed up by people getting rid of the forgotten things. The reason and exact science of what happens remains elusive. There are some, now unfortunate, souls on the island however who don't forget. These are rounded up by the dreaded memory police. The narrator of this tale decides to hide one of these folks, a la Anne Frank, in a secret room in her house.

Though I enjoyed it, it would be a hard book to recommend. It's bound to be too frustrating for a lot of readers. It has the feel of a parable or a metaphor for something but I can't put my finger on it. I would like to find another reader to hear their theories. Throughout, mine changed. Was it something about those ideas that get edited away during the writing of a book, forever forgotten? Is it something about losing our individuality in love? Is it about the ephemeral nature of life itself?

Answers do not not come. The mystery, combined with Ogawa's rich but accessible descriptions, held me much longer than I would have thought. Still, I'd not judge anyone who gave up on it or who were angered by the ending.

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