The Memory Police by Yoko Ogawa – Book Reading Experience:

Has it ever occurred to you after reading a book that you have so much to say about it that you just cannot find the right words? I am in that exact state. This is my third attempt at writing how this book made me feel(this is no review, I cannot write reviews).

The story is about some fictional island where things disappear. Things like hat, rose, perfume and how can I spell it “novels” (i know I could not think of a world without that). And as the things disappear so does its memories !!!(gasp). The islanders slowly forget how that thing looked like or what was it. And the memory police ensures the imposition of that disappearance. And those who remembers are severely punished.

In this heart wrenching fable like tale most of the characters don’t have a name or given some broken letters as names. The island itself is never named. Because that is what memories does right? The first thing we remember is name. And when memory is a vice who needs a name.

The book made me ponder at so many points. Is it better if we completely erase the memories of the things or the dear ones we lose? Or the memories make us stronger? This book was recommended when we as a family is battling a terrible loss. A loss that would never be replaced. And this book arrived both as a blessing and a bane.

When each nook and corner of the house, each small things are reminding us of the departed soul the book showed me how losing those precious memories may render us more broken. To quote the book –

But as things got thinner, more full of holes, our hearts got thinner, too, diluted somehow. I suppose that kept things in balance.’

It was scary at times, especially with the situation all around.

No matter how long we waited, spring never came, and we lay buried under the snow along with the ashes of the calendars.”

Then there was another beautiful one,

I don’t know. Maybe there’s a place out there where people whose hearts aren’t empty can go on living.

But overall it taught me how important those memories are. How important the little things in life are.

I would not say I loved the book but like the books of Murakami this japanese book by Yoko Ogawa lingers in the readers heart long after it is read.

It is not a happy book, nor a sad book. It a beautifully written prose that tugs the heart at the right notes. Thanks to a friend for the recommendation that I discovered this gem and it again strengthened my view that a book finds you right at the moment you need them.

P.S. The book may remind you of 1984 . The Orwellian influence is all over the plot but thats okay, dystopian story without His influence is perhaps impossible.

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  1. Your post makes the book more interesting and it must be tried out. Many Japanese authors write beautifully, even when they are writing crime novels. But, this one is a must try.


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