The Memory Police by Yōko Ogawa
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This is on the shortlist for the International Booker Prize. The
original novel was published in Japanese in 1994, so I struggled a bit
with the idea that all the more contemporary novels were overlooked for
this, but I can see that it is pretty standout.
On the Booker page for this novel the translator talks about the resonance of this
book specifically in America specifically this year, with a government
leaning closer and closer to dictatorship and asking it's citizens to
believe things that "simply aren't true." I can see that. Still, the
book has a surreal quality that allows the people on the island to just
let things happen to them and that in itself is a puzzle - and how does
the government make it happen? I can see them using their power to make
people go along with something but even a dog wakes up to a leg that
disappeared.... (I understand it is allegory, metaphor, fable but still
these things are not explained.) I also was not sure why the unnamed
narrator builds a place to hide her editor, one person who doesn't
forget when he is supposed to. All along she is writing a novel along
similar themes but the disappearance of things causes major problems as
you can imagine.
This is also a read for Women in Translation
Month. I imagine this was a challenge because the language is floaty and
so much is passive...
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