The book is practically a novelization of German pastor Martin Niemoller’s post-World War II poem “First they came …,” but the environmental effects of the disappearances of things like roses and fruit make Ogawa’s prose feel applicable not just to political atrocities like genocide but to climate change or any other crisis made worse by general complacency.
On an unnamed island off an unnamed coast, objects are disappearing: first hats, then ribbons, birds, roses – until things become much more serious.
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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 no 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 the floorboards. As fear and loss close in around them, they cling to her wiring as the last way of preserving the past.