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Commentary on ‘Somewhere out there in a place no one knows: Yoko Ogawa’s The Memory Police and the literature of forgetting’ by John Henning
  1. Chris J D Hardy
  1. Dementia Research Centre, UCL, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Chris J D Hardy, Dementia Research Centre, UCL, London WC1E 6BT, UK; chris.hardy{at}


The Memory Police is a disconcerting novel set on a mysterious island. Inhabitants of this island suffer objects being ‘disappeared’, and we follow our narrator’s journey as they try to navigate these disappearances. Henning in their compelling recent essay suggests that the novel can be more fully appreciated by engaging with a literature of forgetting and draws parallels between the events in the book and the course of the neurodegenerative process of Alzheimer’s disease. In this commentary, I suggest that the progressive deterioration of conceptual knowledge described in the novel most closely resembles that seen in the rare neurodegenerative disease, semantic dementia.

  • Neurology
  • Medical humanities
  • dementia

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  • Contributors The author confirms sole responsibility for the following: article conception and design, and manuscript preparation.

  • Funding CJDH is supported by a Royal National Institute for Deaf People–Dunhill Medical Trust Pauline Ashley Fellowship (grant PA23_Hardy) and a Wellcome Institutional Strategic Support Fund Award (204841/Z/16/Z).

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.