Title:- Convenience Store Woman
Author:- Sayaka Murata
Translator:- Ginny Tapley Takemori
Date published:- first published July 2016, June 27th 2018
Genre:- Japanese fiction
No. of pages:- 163 pages
Overall rating:- 4/5
Convenience Store Woman is the heartwarming and surprising story of thirty-six-year-old Tokyo resident Keiko Furukura. Keiko has never fit in, neither in her family, nor in school, but when at the age of eighteen she begins working at the Hiiromachi branch of “Smile Mart,” she finds peace and purpose in her life. In the store, unlike anywhere else, she understands the rules of social interaction ― many are laid out line by line in the store’s manual ― and she does her best to copy the dress, mannerisms, and speech of her colleagues, playing the part of a “normal” person excellently, more or less. Managers come and go, but Keiko stays at the store for eighteen years. It’s almost hard to tell where the store ends and she begins. Keiko is very happy, but the people close to her, from her family to her coworkers, increasingly pressure her to find a husband, and to start a proper career, prompting her to take desperate action…
A brilliant depiction of an unusual psyche and a world hidden from view, Convenience Store Woman is an ironic and sharp-eyed look at contemporary work culture and the pressures to conform, as well as a charming and completely fresh portrait of an unforgettable heroine.
Lately I decided to try a hand on reading East Asian fiction, particularly the Japanese fiction to take a break from English ones. Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata is my third Japanese fiction book I have read so far and there are many more to come!
Keiko Furukura is a thirty something year old woman, unmarried and still working at the convenience store–the same store she had been working since she was eighteen. Basically the story is about her life in the store, her life in general.
There were no chapters but the story was short and fast to read. The story is mainly told in Keiko’s POV and there are some funny moments in the story. Keiko’s character reminded me a little of Sheldon Cooper from Big Bang Theory. The story itself is very realistic–how people can be judgmental, when you are not married, people’s perception about you in general and how Keiko sometimes feel like she was ostracized from the society. I have to say, the story was good and I enjoyed reading the book in general. Overall, this book worth 4 stars!
Sayaka Murata (in Japanese, 村田 沙耶香) is one of the most exciting up-and-coming writers in Japan today.
She herself still works part time in a convenience store, which gave her the inspiration to write Convenience Store Woman (Konbini Ningen). She debuted in 2003 with Junyu (Breastfeeding), which won the Gunzo Prize for new writers. In 2009 she won the Noma Prize for New Writers with Gin iro no uta (Silver Song), and in 2013 the Mishima Yukio Prize for Shiro-oro no machi no, sono hone no taion no (Of Bones, of Body Heat, of Whitening City). Convenience Store Woman won the 2016 Akutagawa Award. Murata has two short stories published in English (both translated by Ginny Tapley Takemori): “Lover on the Breeze” (Ruptured Fiction(s) of the Earthquake, Waseda Bungaku, 2011) and “A Clean Marriage” (Granta 127: Japan, 2014).