Review: The Memory Police, by Yōko Ogawa

the memory police yoko ogawaRating: ★★★★☆

Categories: Literary Fiction, Dystopia


The Memory Police tells the story of our unnamed narrator, a novelist living in an unnamed island where things disappear. One day many years before, it had been hats, and then ribbons, and those things were not missed. The islanders forgot about them and moved on. The disappeared things become slowly more important, and the islanders forget and move on after each one – but not everyone forgets what has been lost, and the Memory Police make sure those people are taken away. When our narrator finds out her editor and friend is one of those people who are unable to forget, she knows she must hide him, lest he end up like her mother – dead.

I was instantly enamored with this novel, how beautiful the writing is and how atmospheric – it’s so easy to immerse yourself in this world and read for hours on end. The plot is so interesting and reminded me a little of Spellbook of the Lost and Found, 1984 and Fahrenheit 451 – I know, a strange mixture. At its core, The Memory Police is about the importance of stories, and it beautifully deals also with loss and memory. Things get quite intense as more important things start to disappear, and the reader just knows there is no way things will end well.

There are many things left unexplained, and an ending that left me feeling quite sad. Of course this is done quite on purpose, but if you like your fantasy to have things nicely tied in the end and more explained (like in Spellbook, for example), then maybe you will not like this. I think this novel is quite perfect for readers who enjoy magical realism and are okay with really open endings. The author leaves lots of space for you to imagine what happens before the story begins, what happens after, the why… and I thought that was quite special, if a bit frustrating. I highly recommend this gorgeous novel!

7 thoughts on “Review: The Memory Police, by Yōko Ogawa

  1. Great review! I know we’ve already talked about this one, but my pickiness aside I definitely still thought this was a beautiful and brilliant book, and I am very glad you liked it! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: The Best Books I Read in 2020 (All Genres) | Naty's Bookshelf

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