The Memory Police by  Yoko Ogawa

The Memory Police

Yoko Ogawa

Told by an unnamed narrator, and taking place on a remote island, this dystopian fable is both generously accessible and beguilingly enigmatic. Despite the title suggesting otherwise, the focus of the book is the personal, physical experience of oppression and loss, rather than the machinations of the totalitarian Memory Police. Breathtakingly beautiful even at its most hauntingly destructive, this gently shattering read is unforgettable.


Each owner seemed to be saying good-bye to his bird in his own way. Some were calling their names, others rubbing them against their cheeks, still others giving them a treat, mouth to beak. But once these little ceremonies were finished, they opened the cages and held them up to the sky. The little creatures, confused at first, fluttered for a moment around their owners, but they soon were gone, as if drawn away into the distance.

When they were gone, a calm fell as though the air itself were breathing with infinite care. The owners turned for home, empty cages in hand.

And that was how the birds disappeared.

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