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🇯🇵 The Memory Police by Yōko Ogawa, translated by Stephen Snyder.
What if you lived in an island where the police constantly erasing one thing without any explanation and your memories also vanished. You remember nothing, how its smell, how to use it, not even its name. If the memories in you still remained, the police would soon arrest you.
That island is where an unnamed author, an old man, and an editor named “R” live. The story is being told in first-person point of view. What makes this interesting is that the person whom we get to know the story from is not a so-called chosen one but from an ordinary woman author who has no idea what perfumes and hats are. Unlike her mom who could remember everything even years after the disappearance, she’s similar to others in the island who have no such special abilities. She lost her mom long time ago, thanks to the police. So when the police track people’s DNA to know whether a person is an ordinary—which means his/her memory easily wiped out—or not, she’s trying to save R who still owns memories of all lost things.
At first I found this book quite boring with its flat prose, and slow and predictable plots. But then I reminded myself that some books need different set of minds while reading them.
There were two different occasions how I read this, first in the middle of daily activity while I was in need for some kind of “entertainment” therefore reading with expectations that it would give me some closures especially on why Memory Police do such awful things. Then reading this in a meditative state just before I get to sleep. The latter, in my opinion, is the best way to read this one of #InternationalBookerPrize2020.
Reading this makes me wonder what makes memory, a ‘memory’?. I remember seven or eight years ago, reading about minimalism mostly written by #JoshuaFieldsMillburn and #RyanNicodemus, I learned that sentimental items hold no memory, it was us that sow our feeling into them, after months or years our lives happening around those objects. I began practicing my version of minimalist life, including donating my things that had such meanings to me—after had took photos of them. I started realised at the time that whether I intended to be a minimalist or not, I would end up only owning few things since I had to move or simply growing up. Not that I regretted it, it was great. At least 2 times I’ve had donated my things, including books. My book-shelf became empty, or maybe not “empty” since there was no hole, it was filled in, with feelings of release.
And that brought me to next series of questions:
How do we know if memory is useful?
Does it need to be useful?
Will something we have no memory about, emotionally hurt us?
Are bad memories are just memories with unwanted feelings?
Why do we called them ‘bad memories’?
Who am I, who are you if we don’t have any memory?
P.S This is joking, but sometimes I imagined the Memory Police are just people who are too far in #MarieKondo-ing.
#JapaneseLiterature #Literature #Bookreview #Drawings #Bookish #Bibliophile #YokoOgawa