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InstaReview: Memory Police by Yoko Ogawa

"Men who start by burning books end by burning other men."

The Memory Police by Yoko Ogawa was originally published in 1994 in Japan and only recently translated into English in 2019. Nonetheless, the surreal story remains all too relevant with its Orwellian vibes of an island under totalitarian rule, subject to a collective amnesia enforced by the eponymous memory police. This novella brings to mind the slow boiling frog, and we appreciated the dark implications being made within the pages of this quietly building story (and the story within the story). However, some of the OWC struggled to suspend disbelief, as Ogawa offers little in the way of explanation for major elements of the magical realism driving the plot forward. If you enjoy allegories, dystopia and Japanese lit, we think this book is for you.


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