August 2020 Book Club Report: Yoko Ogawa’s The Memory Police

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Our Inaugural Book Club Meeting

We held our first book club meeting in the late afternoon on 29 August 2020, Saturday, at Whisk and Paddle. Over smoothies, tea and an intriguing glass of iced matcha chocolate (in which chocolate milk was poured over a matcha cube), four of us shared our thoughts on Yoko Ogawa’s The Memory Police.

The Memory Police is a science fiction novel set in a dystopian, surveillance state where memories are lost, objects disappeared.

Book Club Questions for The Memory Police 

While also digging into sweet potato fries and calamari, we chatted about:

  • Our first impressions of the novel

  • Did the novel challenge your perspective about anything?

  • If we were one of the characters (the protagonist, R, old man, or the memory police), would we have made the same decisions as they did?

  • Why do you think the author created a story within a story? How did the story about the typist strengthen or weaken the overall plot?

  • Our favourite quote or scene in the novel

  • Did the book end the way you expected?

It was refreshing to hear diverse views about the novel, and to ask difficult questions about the role of translators and translation. For instance, to what extent can/should the quality of a translated book be attributed to the translator?

September Book Club Selection 

Towards the end of the meeting, we decided on the book for September: Flights by Polish writer Olga Tokarczuk!

We can’t wait to meet other readers interested in translated literature, and exchange thoughts over good food and drinks. Stay tuned for more details about our book club meeting in September!

*Harriett Press’s Translated Literature Book Club is a monthly book club that meets to exchange thoughts on a translated book selected for the month. Anyone is welcome to join us!⁠ Find out more about book club meetings by following us on Facebook and Instagram!  


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