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Cristallisation Secrète The horrors of forgetting At first glance, The Memory Police, originally published in Japan in 1994 and now available in an excellent English translation, looks like a descendant of George Orwell s Set on an unnamed island, objects are routinely disappeared , both physically and also in the minds of the people One day birds disappear The next day it could be a type of candy Anyone who dares to keep disappeared items is in danger Those who actually remember them are in bigger danger TheThe horrors of forgetting At first glance, The Memory Police, originally published in Japan in 1994 and now available in an excellent English translation, looks like a descendant of George Orwell s Set on an unnamed island, objects are routinely disappeared , both physically and also in the minds of the people One day birds disappear The next day it could be a type of candy Anyone who dares to keep disappeared items is in danger Those who actually remember them are in bigger danger The Memory Police, clad in luxurious uniforms, keep everyone living in fear People who remember are taken away, never to return again.When a young writer learns her editor is one of the people who remembers, she is determined to protect him by hiding him in a secret room in her house.So, yeah, it s set up like a typical dystopian novel that deftly illustrates the insidious, dehumanizing claw of totalitarianism And Y ko Ogawa does this very well There s a quiet tension that stalks the pages of the novel The fear, claustrophobia and struggle feel real But she moves further and I love that she did this , past the political, and into the larger, universal sphere of death.Yes, death Because the people don t just lose objects when things are disappeared With each lost item, people also lose the associated memories Thus, their hearts, souls, and selves suffer losses that cannot be recovered The young woman worries about the day when everything on the island is disappeared When the people are disappeared Her editor, a man who still can remember, keeps reassuring her Just because things have been disappeared doesn t make them any less real Even if everything disappeared, the stories would be there He promises to protect the memories.But with patient, hypnotic progression, the losses continue It becomes less about the woman losing the world around her andabout the man losing the woman before his eyes.I loved this, my first foray into Ogawa s large oeuvre Written in deceptively flat, simple prose, it offers no easy answers We don t know the wheres, whens, hows, whys This has twinges of The Vegetarian and even The Metamorphosis, with weird, alienating transformations and much left to the reader to discern It also feels particularly relevant in today s world and here s where it gets political again where our collective memories seem no better than that of a goldfish s swimming in the ether, where yesterday s news is swallowed up in today s hypocrisy.Devastating and terrifying, this forced march towards complete loss In a world where writers lose their voice, where is the hope I like to believe it s tiny, and it s secret, and maybe it s not enough, but it s there, in a hidden room where the seeds of resistance and memory reside Long ago, before you were born, there were manythings here my mother used to tell me when I was still a child Transparent things, fragrant thingsfluttery ones, bright oneswonderful things you can t possibly imagine It s a shame that the people who live here haven t been able to hold such marvelous things in their hearts and minds, but that s just the way it is one this island Things go on disappearing, one by one It won t be long now , she added You ll see for yourselLong ago, before you were born, there were manythings here my mother used to tell me when I was still a child Transparent things, fragrant thingsfluttery ones, bright oneswonderful things you can t possibly imagine It s a shame that the people who live here haven t been able to hold such marvelous things in their hearts and minds, but that s just the way it is one this island Things go on disappearing, one by one It won t be long now , she added You ll see for yourself Something will disappear from your lifeIn an unnamed island, time passes quietly carrying the years of the islanders along the way The years and the memories Literally Objects we all take for granted have disappeared Ribbons, bells, precious stones, perfume, flowers, fruit Objects and notions are being forgotten, along with feelings and thoughts The elders of the community hide the secrets of the past in their eyes and hearts, unable to share them because the Memory Police are there to enforce the disappearances Becomingandbrutal, they persecute the ones who dare to react by preserving tokens of the lost objects or the citizens who are genetically unable to forget The Memory Police want to create a community where every thought and feeling will have become a thing of the past, lost and forgotten until there s nothing left, until everyone is soullessI wonder how the wind could tell the roses from all the other flowersThis is my first Ogawa novel and it proved to be one of the strangest, most haunting reading experiences Behind the scenery of a form of a totalitarian regime, Ogawa presents issues that provide ample material for contemplation and discussion What is the significance of Memory How does it define the world we know A ribbon is a ribbon because we know its name, we recognize its use If we wake up one morning and decide that it is time to discard every ribbon we own, forget its existence and go on living, how will this change affect us Once we forget every gift of Nature, every object mankind has created since the dawn of time, we will simply cease to existI sometimes wonder what I d see if I could hold your heart in my handsOgawa creates a story parable of disappearing notions and objects to refer to freedom of thought and speech, demonstrating the strong bond between our feelings and experiences and the way we perceive the world through our senses We see an object, we smell a perfume, we listen to a melody and thoughts start flooding our mind Without these stimuli, we are empty vessels And this is exactly what regimes need Empty moulds that have lost the ability to think and feel Let us think of our past Hitler and Stalin tried to create a clean sheet out of troubled societies, controlling everything But Thought and Memory cannot be controlled Not even by monsters.Ogawa chooses not to name the country the story is set in The heroine and the cast of characters remain nameless Even the editor whom the young woman is trying to protect is simply called R This choice intensifies the haunting atmosphere and the universality of the themes The main character is a very sympathetic, tangible woman Sensitive, brave and determined to keep the spirit and the memory of her parents alive She is a human being who thinks and feels, experiencing the dilemmas and fears of the one who tries to swim against the current, having lost her mother and father to the Memory PoliceAutumn passed quickly The crushing of the waves was sharp and cold, and the wind brought the winter clouds from beyond the mountainsIn literary terms, this novel is quietly devastating Haunting and atmospheric, its prose is hypnotic and unassumingly philosophical The autumnal scenes and the long winter that seems to be unwilling to leave the island create a melancholic setting that makes the looming threat of the Memory Police a littlebearable The scenes of the disappearing roses will make you cry The dialogue is poetic and the extracts of the novel written by the main character add another dimension to the plot Written 15 years ago, this novel has all the characteristics of Japanese Literature and succeeds in creating a Dystopian setting that is effective and terrifying Most of the contemporary Anglo Saxon wannabe Dystopian writers could learn a thing or two by reading Ogawa s masterpiece I doubt they will, thoughI make my living now from my writing So far, I ve published three novels The first was about a piano tuner who wanders through music chops and concert halls searching for her lover, a pianist, who has vanished She relies solely on the sound of his music that lingers in her ears The second was about a ballerina who lost her right leg in an accident and lives in a greenhouse with her boyfriend, who is a botanist And the third was about a young woman nursing her younger brother, who suffers from a disease that is destroying his chromosomes Each one told the story of something that had been disappearedMany thanks to Pantheon and Edelweiss for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.My reviews can also be found on We re in a small town on a Japanese island It s dominated by the brutal memory police who make things disappear Well, they make people make them disappear by declaring that ribbon or emeralds or stamps have to disappear and the citizens reluctantly but dutifully gather and hold bonfires to burn the now forbidden item of the month Some people keep forbidden items and if the MP s hear of that they will kick your door in and confiscate the items and haul you off who knows where It s likely yo We re in a small town on a Japanese island It s dominated by the brutal memory police who make things disappear Well, they make people make them disappear by declaring that ribbon or emeralds or stamps have to disappear and the citizens reluctantly but dutifully gather and hold bonfires to burn the now forbidden item of the month Some people keep forbidden items and if the MP s hear of that they will kick your door in and confiscate the items and haul you off who knows where It s likely you won t be heard of again.And not only do they forbid hoarding of items, they want the memory of those items to be destroyed Most people forget what ribbon was, or what it was used for, and they forget the smell of now banned perfume But some people remember The MPs want those people The MPs know who they are and a few good souls hide them from the police in basements and secret rooms at great peril to themselvesOur heroine is a young novelist Her mother, a sculptor, was a hoarder of banned items Her mother is no longer with us The young woman only has two friends, her publisher and an old family friend who ran the ferry boat to the mainland before the ferry was disappeared She doesn t have the power of memory but she s hiding someone in her house who does.Evenimportant things begin to be banned birds, fruit and guess what else It s a novel about the trauma of loss We get to read excerpts from her latest novel about a woman who permanently loses her voice, so we have a story within a story that s a metaphor for the on going horrors She develops a love interest in her real life along with the woman in her story, so that helps keep the plot moving along A good story, and I think the book has the potential over time to become a classic of dystopian totalitarian literature along with others such as Brave New World, Fahrenheit 451 and 1984 A classic quote used in the book Men who start by burning books end up burning other men I recently read and enjoyed another book by this Japanese author b 1962 The Housekeeper and the Professor It too was about memory loss an elderly professor who could retain recent memory only for an hour and a half Top photo on Honshu Island from thetimes.co.ukIllustration from mexikaresistance.files.wordpress.comThe author from smh.com.au I still think that the premise of this book is really thought provoking as an extension and perhaps even conclusion to Orwell s 1984 but the plot didn t pull it together for me I left with a lot of questions and frustrations continually asking why or how We had a great discussion about it on the podcast though I still think that the premise of this book is really thought provoking as an extension and perhaps even conclusion to Orwell s 1984 but the plot didn t pull it together for me I left with a lot of questions and frustrations continually asking why or how We had a great discussion about it on the podcast though Quiet and understated, The Memory Police reflects on what it means to remember the past in the face of state repression The allegorical novel follows an unnamed writer living on a remote island locked in perpetual winter, ruled by an authoritarian gang of police who slowly banish residents memories of all they ve ever known, from rose gardens to novels Not all the residents forget, though, and those who don t are rounded up and killed by the police the story centers on the writer s fraught a Quiet and understated, The Memory Police reflects on what it means to remember the past in the face of state repression The allegorical novel follows an unnamed writer living on a remote island locked in perpetual winter, ruled by an authoritarian gang of police who slowly banish residents memories of all they ve ever known, from rose gardens to novels Not all the residents forget, though, and those who don t are rounded up and killed by the police the story centers on the writer s fraught attempt to hide inside her home her editor, who can remember everything the police outlaw and destroy As with any quasi allegory, the concept s hazy, the characters one note, and the setting vague, but Ogawa writes clear, entrancing prose that s compelling to read The newly translated novel was written over two decades ago, and its tale of loss and repression in a land beset by climate chaos is especially resonant today, in the face of a warming world and ever intensifying political turmoil The Memory Police is one of my top ten books for 2019.Originally published in 1994, and released in translation only this year, and with a decent marketing budget as evidenced by the stunning cover and many interviews and reviews, it is compelling Like all of Ogawa s works, it is also timeless It may strike us as a novel of the moment because state surveillance is its backdrop But Ogawa s stories are about how people respond to their circumstances, to limitations What motivates them What con The Memory Police is one of my top ten books for 2019.Originally published in 1994, and released in translation only this year, and with a decent marketing budget as evidenced by the stunning cover and many interviews and reviews, it is compelling Like all of Ogawa s works, it is also timeless It may strike us as a novel of the moment because state surveillance is its backdrop But Ogawa s stories are about how people respond to their circumstances, to limitations What motivates them What confuses them What compels them to make this or that choice Her language is calm, unexcited She describes unnerving events with simplicity Her words linger but don t shout Ogawa has written 20 books and won multiple awards, but Memory Police is only her fifth to be published in English All have been translated by Stephen Snyder, a professor of Japanese studies at Middlebury College If you tend to avoid literature in translation, get over it for this one, please Snyder s translation is amazing The Memory Police is Japanese not American so our protagonist isn t the heroic sort determined to defy the system She is a writer living on an island that none are able to depart Objects and concepts occasionally disappear sometimes physically, sometimes the community s collective understanding of them evaporates such that they remain in existence but meaningless to all Ogawa offers no explanation for either the mechanism or the rules of disappearing Disappearing is useful primarily for exploring the role of memory in how we become us, as individuals and as communities, and whether if those memories are dismantled we change, and to what extent Our protagonist is calm She goes along to get along As a child, she lost her mother to the memory police She s in her early 20s now and a novelist But now other objects are disappearing music, roses, stories Occasionally, people are taken away by the Memory Police and never seen again Because she fears for good reason that her editor, R, is at risk of being disappeared in the South American manner familiar to all in the 1970s , she finds a way to hide him with the assistance of a friend in a room hidden between the floors of her home The suggestion of Anne Frank, an inspiration Ogawa has flagged in multiple interviews, acts as a bit of distraction for the reader R is the defender of community and individual memory, of the importance of writing and reading as a means of preserving the past and understanding who one is Ogawa is ever the mistress of misdirection As the pages turned, I worried unceasingly about R and the dog Meanwhile, in the moment I missed the forest.At one point, our writer protagonist is working on a story about a typist whose instructor interacts with her in ways that are at first dismaying, then baffling, and finally cruel Her story is presented in segments, without any framing One of the irresistible and confounding mysteries of The Memory Police is the significance of the story within a story I promise you, you ll spend a lot of time contemplating how the two stories relate and perhaps arriving at a handful of possibilities If you bring an ounce of humility to The Memory Police, you ll remain a little uncomfortable and a tad uncertain about the interpretation you choose I love that Ogawa leaves us withquestions than answers In a profile of Ogawa published August 12, 2019, the NYTimes included the following quote, Ogawa considers herself an eavesdropper on her characters I just peeked into their world and took notes from what they were doing, she said Her eavesdropping is unparalleled Enough to make a fan of a champion dystopian avoider like me If you re worried about the dog, view spoiler you don t need to He s healthy and happy to the last page hide spoiler I just realized I never reviewed this I don t have much to say, honestly, so let s jump in.The premise for this book was so fascinating to me, and page by page I came up with new questions about the world and how things worked, eagerly flipping the pages to get some answers But nada This book forces you to turn your brain off a bit and just accept what is happening, and the lack of explanations are not supposed to bother you That didn t work for me With such an interesting concept, I just realized I never reviewed this I don t have much to say, honestly, so let s jump in.The premise for this book was so fascinating to me, and page by page I came up with new questions about the world and how things worked, eagerly flipping the pages to get some answers But nada This book forces you to turn your brain off a bit and just accept what is happening, and the lack of explanations are not supposed to bother you That didn t work for me With such an interesting concept, I wanted solid ANSWERS This book ended up beingsurreal than I thought it would be, and that s not necessarily the book s fault, but I wish I had known that going in I can see myself potentially reading this again in the future, because I reallllly want to love it, but I was thrown off guard big time when I read it This book cannot be rated because it surpasses that structure of confinement that a star rating can give I picked this book up from my library after seeing it in B N and reading the blurb, a haunting, Orwellian novel about the terrors of state surveillance I was hooked from the beginning It takes a lot for me to almost finish a book in one sitting, but this story was so haunting and compelling, like a sleepy nightmare unfolding before you while you are unable to look away Told in a way tha This book cannot be rated because it surpasses that structure of confinement that a star rating can give I picked this book up from my library after seeing it in BN and reading the blurb, a haunting, Orwellian novel about the terrors of state surveillance I was hooked from the beginning It takes a lot for me to almost finish a book in one sitting, but this story was so haunting and compelling, like a sleepy nightmare unfolding before you while you are unable to look away Told in a way that relies heavily on the main character s internal dialogue, this story follows an unnamed island full of obscure characters whose names don t matter because it s their existence and being that sticks with you the most The lack of definitive details about the characters and the island itself, similar to 1984, is so striking and cryptic that I was drawn forward to readbecause from the moment you begin this novel you know it won t end well, and yet I read on.I m a sucker for a good, quiet drama that doesn t offer definitive answers to the questions I had swirling in my mind I loved how murky and foreboding this entire story was I loved how we were thrust into the middle of a world already controlled by a higher being who never makes an appearance but looms over the entire narrative I loved how each character s history and existence itself was obscure in a way that didn t make this story feel as though it were lacking in substance While this story may seem murky, it alludes to how easily we, as a society, are so quick to forget and toss aside memories and pieces of history to adjust to our current situations without questioning how easily we can let memories of the past float away from our minds I could write a thesis about how moving and stunning this story was, but I ll leave it at that This will be on my mind for years I won t let it escape my memory L le o se d roule cette histoire est depuis toujours soumise un trange ph nom ne les choses et les tres semblent promis une sorte d effacement diaboliquement orchestr Quand un matin les oiseaux disparaissent jamais, la jeune narratrice de ce livre ne s panche pas sur cet v nement dramatique, le souvenir du chant d un oiseau s est vanoui tout comme celui de l motion que provoquaient en elle la beaut d une fleur, la d licatesse d un parfum, la mort d un tre cher Apr s les animaux, les roses, les photographies, les calendriers et les livres, les humains semblent touch s une partie de leur corps va les abandonnerEn ces lieux demeurent pourtant de singuliers personnages Habit s de souvenirs, en proie la nostalgie, ces tres sont en danger Traqu s par les chasseurs de m moires, ils font l objet de rafles terrifiantes Un magnifique roman, angoissant, kafka en Une subtile m taphore des r gimes totalitaires, travers laquelle Yoko Ogawa explore les ravages de la peur et ceux de l insidieux ph nom ne d effacement des images, des souvenirs, qui peut conduire accepter le pire It is ages since I read 1984 , but all my memoeries of reading this novel returned to me while I became engrossed in The Memory Police.An island where everything gradually disappears and where everybody is under surveillance of the Memory Police Not everybody, however, notices that the world around them is changing, and those who do, seek to preserve what they can, and in this way become the enemy.Even in the totalitarian states people were not deprived of what they cherished memories of t It is ages since I read 1984 , but all my memoeries of reading this novel returned to me while I became engrossed in The Memory Police.An island where everything gradually disappears and where everybody is under surveillance of the Memory Police Not everybody, however, notices that the world around them is changing, and those who do, seek to preserve what they can, and in this way become the enemy.Even in the totalitarian states people were not deprived of what they cherished memories of their lives and memories of what things were The idea Ms Ogawa had for this novel is terrifying This novel was published in 1994 in Japanese, and I am surprised it has taken several decades to have it translated into English Fortunately, it is available now, and I hope there will betranslations I am planning to readof Ms Ogawa s books, probably in Polish,

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