‘Introduction’ to The Memory Police by Yoko Ogawa, translated by Stephen Snyder

This is not a standalone short story, but the opening pages of Yoko Ogawa’s cult novel, which depicts a world where an authoritarian government is able to collectively delete items from the mind of its citizens. This intro exists as its own cohesive work, and at the risk of sounding controversial, the rest of the novel feels like an afterthought to this gorgeous, poignant tableau. A young girl comes to learn that her mother is not only immune to the erasures of memory that everyone else in their world experiences, but that she’s been hoarding the ‘deleted’ objects (a bell, perfume, more) in hidden drawers. 

First published by Kodansha, 1994. First English translation by Pantheon/Harvill Secker, 2019

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