The Memory Police, a book by japanese writer, Yoko Ogawa has a weird prescient feel to me today. I read it while on the Bali boot camp and after my trip to Japan to visit Julie Pierce. I love to read books of fiction from places I’m going visit or have visited I feel they give me a deeper and different insight into the people and the country.
The Memory Police however has the added edge of feeling prescient given the eroding … bit by excruciating bit … of the life as we have known it. You may not feel this is the right time to read this book but it has, at its core, a beautiful message for us all.
This Japanese fable about an island where disappearance is a way of life is a masterpiece, meditating on totalitarianism and resistance as well as the rhythms of life and death
This review from the Guardian….
Birds, roses, maps and calendars are among the objects that have been “disappeared” from an unnamed island. Our narrator is a novelist who has lost both her parents. As the book opens, she has been working with her beloved editor, R, on a gentle love story between a typist and her teacher that takes a nightmarish turn. The novelist has one other trusted friend, an old man whom she has known since childhood.
In their lives, disappearances are continual. For instance: one night, the inhabitants of the island feel a stirring, a realisation that something is leaving. When morning arrives they find that red petals are inundating the river. “The breeze seemed to discriminate, choosing only the rose petals to scatter.” Without need of instruction, the islanders, “quiet, dazed”, dig up their rose bushes. They throw them into the river or incinerate them at communal fires. Some observe small ceremonies to mark the departure. Days later, the rose gardens will be gone and no one will remember what existed on that piece of land. The word “rose” will dissolve from memory; the Memory Police will do a thorough search for all images and writings about roses and remove them.
“The first duty of the Memory Police [is] to enforce the disappearance.” The bird observatory is already in ruins, since the birds flew away never to return. Former hat-makers, ferrymen and boat mechanics have been displaced into other professions, as hats and ferries no longer exist.
If you would like to borrow the book get in touch and send it on….please disinfect it tho. Lorrie xx
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