The Memory Police
An Orwellian tale that's part allegory, part literary thriller, The Memory Police is a deft and dark reflection on the terrors of state surveillance.
On an unnamed island off an unnamed coast, things are vanishing. First animals and flowers, then objects — ribbons, bells, photographs — and, at the hands of the Memory Police, the few citizens imbued with the power to recall these lost objects. At the center of the story is a young novelist who realizes, when books disappear, that more than her career is in danger. In an act of fearless resistance, her editor preserves her work and takes refuge beneath her floorboards. Together, as fear and loss close in around them, they cling to literature as the last way of preserving the past.
Inspired in part by Ogawa’s longtime fascination with the life of Anne Frank, The Memory Police echoes the horrific campaigns of the Gestapo, as well as the dystopias of Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, Lois Lowry’s The Giver, and Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go. At the same time, Ogawa’s lean and lapidary prose has an uncanny power all of its own.
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Claire Nozieres manages the translation rights for The Memory Police
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A quiet tale that considers the way small, human connections can disrupt the callous powers of authority.
Eerily surreal, Ogawa's novel takes Orwellian tropes of a surveillance state and makes them markedly her own.
An unfortunately zeitgeisty novel about censorship, oppression, and the gradual compression of experience under autocratic regimes, this is a deeply traumatizing novel in the best way possible.
The Memory Police loom, their brutality multiplies, but Ogawa remarkably ensures that what lingers are the human(e) connections.Booklist (starred review)
Ogawa’s fable echoes the themes of George Orwell’s 1984, Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, and Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s 100 Years of Solitude, but it has a voice and power all its own.
The Best Books of Summer 2019