81. The Memory Police by Yoko Ogawa
We discuss The Memory Police, a haunting dystopian novel that explores questions of power, trauma and state surveillance written by Yoko Ogawa, one of Japan's leading contemporary novelists.
Set on an unnamed island, the narrator of The Memory Police describes how every so often something in the inhabitants' lives will disappear. Birds, roses, books, one by one these things vanish overnight and the next day people wake up to find they have lost the memory of them. The Memory Police then arrive to enforce the disappearance, rounding up and destroying all evidence of the disappeared thing. They are also on the hunt for those few members of the population who have the ability to retain their memories, something hard to disguise. These people too must disappear, but what happens to them? The narrator tries to save her friend, R, by hiding him in a concealed room. But as more and more things disappear it starts to become unclear what she is saving him for.
An uncomfortable read that provoked mixed feelings among Laura's book group, but which, on reflection, we think could have been one of the best book club books we have ever done. Listen in to hear more, why Yoko Ogawa is the Georgette Heyer of Japan, and how Laura is about to become a disappeared thing herself. Plus our recommendations for your next book club read.
Books mentioned on the show: Piranesi by Susanna Clarke, Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, Never Let Me Go and The Unconsoled by Kazuo Ishiguro, We by Yevgeny Zamyatin and The Happy Reader magazine.
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