The Memory Police

A Novel
Narrated by: Traci Kato-Kiriyama
Length: 9 hrs and 8 mins
3.9 out of 5 stars (282 ratings)

Audible Premium Plus

$14.95 a month

1 audiobook of your choice.
Stream or download thousands of included titles.
$14.95 a month after 30 day trial. Cancel anytime.
Buy for $28.00

Buy for $28.00

Pay using card ending in
By confirming your purchase, you agree to Audible's Conditions of Use and Amazon's Privacy Notice. Taxes where applicable.

Publisher's Summary

2019 National Book Award Finalist  

Longlisted for the 2020 International Booker Prize and the 2020 Translated Book Award

New York Times 100 Notable Books of the Year  

A haunting Orwellian novel about the terrors of state surveillance, from the acclaimed author of The Housekeeper and the Professor.

On an unnamed island off an unnamed coast, objects are disappearing: first hats, then ribbons, birds, roses - until things become much more serious. Most of the island's inhabitants are oblivious to these changes, while those few imbued with the power to recall the lost objects live in fear of the draconian Memory Police, who are committed to ensuring that what has disappeared remains forgotten.

When a young woman who is struggling to maintain her career as a novelist discovers that her editor is in danger from the Memory Police, she concocts a plan to hide him beneath her floorboards. As fear and loss close in around them, they cling to her writing as the last way of preserving the past.

A surreal, provocative fable about the power of memory and the trauma of loss, The Memory Police is a stunning new work from one of the most exciting contemporary authors writing in any language.

©2019 Yoko Ogawa and Stephen Snyder (P)2019 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

"An elegantly spare dystopian fable.... Reading The Memory Police is like sinking into a snowdrift: lulling yet suspenseful, it tingles with dread and incipient numbness.... Ogawa’s ruminant style captures the alienation of being alive as the world’s ecosystems, ice sheets, languages, animal species and possible futures vanish more quickly than any one mind can apprehend." (The New York Times Book Review)

"The Memory Police is a masterpiece: a deep pool that can be experienced as fable or allegory, warning and illumination. It is a novel that makes us see differently, opening up its ideas in inconspicuous ways, knowing that all moments of understanding and grace are fleeting. It is political and human, it makes no promises. It is a rare work of patient and courageous vision.... [It] reaches English-language readers as if sent from the future." (The Guardian)

"A masterful work of speculative fiction.... An unforgettable literary thriller full of atmospheric horror." (Chicago Tribune)

Featured Article: 10 Famous Japanese Authors You Have to Hear


Thanks to the work of translators and publishers, Japanese literature is now more accessible than ever to English-speaking audiences. If you've ever wanted to learn more about Japanese culture and literature, you cannot go wrong with listening to audiobooks from Japan. We've compiled a list of the most famous Japanese authors who have helped define Japanese literature, and their notable works across genres and time periods.

What listeners say about The Memory Police

Average Customer Ratings
Overall
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    111
  • 4 Stars
    80
  • 3 Stars
    64
  • 2 Stars
    13
  • 1 Stars
    14
Performance
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    137
  • 4 Stars
    80
  • 3 Stars
    27
  • 2 Stars
    10
  • 1 Stars
    7
Story
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    99
  • 4 Stars
    80
  • 3 Stars
    48
  • 2 Stars
    19
  • 1 Stars
    14

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

A Calm, Quiet Dystopian

THE MEMORY POLICE by Yoko Ogawa is presented as a typical dystopian novel. The book jacket uses works like "Orwellian" and "terrors of state surveillance" but what unfolds over the story is very different than expected. On an unnamed island objects are systematically disappearing. People wake up to realize that photographs, hats, roses, or birds have disappeared. Not only are the objects physically disappeared through disposal but the objects fade from memory, becoming erased from history. But not for everyone: some people posses the power to recall lost objects. These people are hunted by the Memory Police, whose job it is to ensure the disappeared objects remain forgotten. The story follows an unnamed young novelist who helps hide her editor from capture by the Memory Police. Sounds like a pretty exciting and tense story, huh? NOPE. The story is calm and quiet in a way that I have not experienced with other dystopian novels. And that's not a bad thing! The best way I can describe THE MEMORY POLICE is a poetic meditation on loss. The inhabitants of the island have an unquestioning acceptance and are rarely fearful, even as their world is vanishing. As objects disappear, life simple adapts and moves on. It's beautiful, unsettling, and totally original in concept but not necessarily the most entertaining book. Though the story was somewhat unsatisfying, not provide answers to any questions, it was through-provoking and an overall oddball book that I enjoyed reading. If THE MEMORY POLICE were written by an American author (or worse made into an American movie) the story would be about fighting back against a fascist, totalitarian government and likely Scarlett Johansson would be cast as the lead and she would be badass! But that wouldn't be special and would totally ruin the beauty of this book! Hats off to Okawa (and Stephen Snyder for his beautiful translation) for this totally unique, totally memorable novel! *** Pantheon Books provided the book for honest review Follow my Instagram for more book reviews and fun book content: @BookyNooky

8 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

Not worth it

Being a fan of dystopian fiction, I had high hopes for this title, but I did not enjoy it at all. While the performance was fine, the story itself was uninspired, predictable, and far too slow for my liking. If you've never read an Atwood or a Huxley and are fine with overdone similes, etc., this might be worth your time. If you, like me, prefer your audiobooks to be suspenseful and fast-paced, with streamlined language, choose something else.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Haunting and Beautiful

Ogawa's at her best in this title. The Memory Police is unsettling, disturbing, and reinforces the power of memory as a personal tool. As one of my relatives is suffering from Alzheimer's disease, this book struck close to home, knowing there was something that was once part of the world and isn't anymore is truly a powerful realization. The ending, when it came was both expected and executed well. For fans of Ogawa, this is a must listen.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

thoughtful

it is a thought provoking story to me, about keeping what is most important to us. and about questioning our view of the world. it seems to ask how do we hold our thoughts and our expressions as items of value. and freedom. what will we pay to be free to express ourselves? so we value our self expression? can someone take our expressions away from us?

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Interesting concept but lost me after awhile

I struggled with this story. Had some interesting points but overall definitely not my favorite.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Strange, atmospheric and deeply troubling

What if dementia was inflicted upon us through an autocratic order manipulating society using neurosciences. What if all we knew and valued in our world was gradually stolen from our memories so it no longer existed for us. WhT would we be?

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

Seven hours I can’t get back.

Such a promising beginning; however, I kept waiting to tie the pieces together and instead the story took a nose-dive. I wish the memory police could erase this book.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Borderline to be Science Fiction

A friend of mine sent me this recommendation to read “The Memory Police.” My friend and I share the same style of titles. Many Japanese authors have the same style of writing. Very uneven and not uniform to the conventional authors. In a way, most of them are very disjointed and confusing to follow. I really enjoyed “The Memory Police.” I thought that it was good. Instead of a mystery or a thriller, I thought that the story was borderline to be science fiction. Now I see why my friend wanted me to read Yoko Ogawa’s work.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Melancholy and thought provoking

I liked so much the tone. The characters move through the novel trying not to live into the dystopian future. I cannot stop thinking about the questions it raised for me.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Interesting but...

Creative and curious storyline, but I found the narrator’s speech patterns to be clipped and uninspired, not in keeping with the main character’s experience. This may be a book better read than n listen to.