On an anonymous island in Japan, everyday objects begin disappearing - not just gone missing but erased, from presence and from memory, by the bureaucratic edicts of a faceless fascist government. A chilling fable about human apathy, complacency, and complicity in the face of great loss. Deeply resonant in a time when the big and little things we've taken most for granted are disappearing faster than we can mourn them.
Finalist for the International Booker Prize and the National Book Award
A haunting Orwellian novel about the terrors of state surveillance, from the acclaimed author of The Housekeeper and the Professor.
On an unnamed island, objects are disappearing: first hats, then ribbons, birds, roses. . . . Most of the inhabitants are oblivious to these changes, while those few able to recall the lost objects live in fear of the draconian Memory Police, who are committed to ensuring that what has disappeared remains forgotten. When a young writer discovers that her editor is in danger, she concocts a plan to hide him beneath her f loorboards, and together they cling to her writing as the last way of preserving the past. Powerful and provocative, The Memory Police is a stunning novel about the trauma of loss.
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American Book Award winner
About the Author
Yoko Ogawa has won every major Japanese literary award. Her fiction has appeared in The New Yorker, A Public Space, and Zoetrope: All-Story. Her works include The Diving Pool, a collection of three novellas; The Housekeeper and the Professor; Hotel Iris; and Revenge. She lives in Hyogo.
“Unforgettable. . . . A masterful work of speculative fiction.” —Chicago Tribune
“Ogawa’s fable echoes the themes of George Orwell’s 1984, Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, and Gabriel García Márquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude, but it has a voice and power all its own.” —Time
“A masterpiece. . . . A novel that makes us see differently. . . . It is a rare work of patient and courageous vision.” —The Guardian
“A feat of dark imagination . . . an intimate, suspenseful drama of courage and endurance.” —The Wall Street Journal
“[A] masterly novel.” —The New Yorker
“An elegantly spare dystopian fable. . . . It tingles with dread.” —The New York Times Book Review
“Quietly devastating . . . Ogawa finds new ways to express old anxieties about authoritarianism, environmental depredation and humanity’s willingness to be complicit in its own demise.” —The Washington Post
“Timely, provocative reading . . . A harrowing parable about the importance of memory and the profound danger of cultural amnesia.” —Esquire “One of my favorite novels of the decade. . . . It’s a perfect correction to the overwrought politico-apocalyptic fiction so fashionable in These Times. . . . It clarifies all the things our wired society muddles, especially, and most profoundly, the saving grace of the human touch.” —Hillary Kelly, Vulture
“Profoundly powerful. . . . It has the timelessness of a fable, yet feels like an urgent warning about the need for resistance in a world that seems all too quick to forget the lessons of the past.” —The A.V. Club
“A searing, vividly imagined novel by a wildly talented writer . . . Dark and ambitious.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“The novel is particularly resonant now, at a time of rising authoritarianism across the globe. Throughout the book, citizens live under police surveillance. Novels are burned. People are detained and interrogated without explanation.” —The New York Times
“Ogawa lays open a hushed defiance against a totalitarian regime by training her prodigious talent on magnifying the efforts of those who persistently but quietly rebel.” —The Japan Times
“Strange, beautiful and affecting.” —The Sunday Times (London)
“The Memory Police truly feels like a portrait of today. To await the future is to disappear the present—which only accelerates the speed with which now turns to then, and then turns to nothing . . . A lovely, if bleak, meditation on faith and creativity—or faith in creativity—in a world that disavows both.” —Wired
“Haunting and imaginative.” —Refinery29
“Ogawa crafts a powerful story about the processing of loss and the importance of memories.” —Annabel Gutterman, Time “Eerily surreal, Ogawa’s novel takes Orwellian tropes of a surveillance state and makes them markedly her own.” —Thrillist “A taut, claustrophobic thriller.” —Salon