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The Memory Police

The Memory Police

Yoko Ogawa
Translated by Stephen Snyder from Japanese

Published by Harvill Secker
Hat, ribbon, bird, rose. To the people on the island, a disappeared thing no longer has any meaning. It can be burned in the garden, thrown in the river or handed over to the Memory Police. Soon enough, the island forgets it ever existed. When a young novelist discovers that her editor is in danger of being taken away by the Memory Police, she desperately wants to save him. For some reason, he doesn’t forget, and it becomes increasingly difficult for him to hide his memories. Who knows what will vanish next?
The Memory Police is a beautiful, haunting and provocative fable about the power of memory and the trauma of loss, from one of Japan’s greatest writers.


Actor Elizabeth McGovern reads a passage from The Memory Police


We speak to Yoko Ogawa about The Memory Police and she reads from the novel in its original language


Stephen Snyder, translator of The Memory Police, discusses the intricacies of its translation and its particular cultural resonance today

About the Author

Yoko Ogawa

Yoko Ogawa has won every major Japanese literary award. Her fiction has appeared in the New Yorker, A Public Space, and Zoetrope. Her works include The Diving Pool, a collection of three novellas, The Housekeeper and the Professor, Hotel Iris and the story collection Revenge.




Stephen Snyder is a Japanese translator and professor of Japanese Studies at Middlebury College, Vermont. He has translated works by Yoko Ogawa, Kenzaburo Oe, Ryu Murakami, and Miri Yu, among others. His translation of Natsuo Kirino’s Out was a finalist for the Edgar Award for best mystery novel in 2004, and his translation of Yoko Ogawa’s Hotel Iris was short-listed for the Man Asian Literary Prize in 2011.​