Convenience Store Woman
Author: Sayaka Murata // Published: July 27, 2016
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.
One of my goals this year is to read more translated works. I’ve heard so many things about this one and I couldn’t wait to find out how great it was for myself. Sadly, I didn’t love this as much as everyone else did but I still did enjoy it.
Our main character doesn’t fit into society and has been feeling like an outcast most of her life. She spends a lot of time trying to seem as ‘normal’ as possible to the people around her. Especially for her family so they don’t see the need to ‘fix’ her. The book brings to light exactly what people think in our society. How certain people are treated and looked down on. How everyone thinks that they have a right to tell others how to feel and what to do. As much as I appreciate what this book brought, I couldn’t look past some things. The book just fell flat for me and that might be because my expectations were too high. There were also some moments that were on the strange side.
I didn’t feel anything for our main character. She seemed bland most of the time and I guess that fit into where the story was going, but at the same time I wish there had been just a little more to it. We also had Shiraha who infuriated me so much I was going to throw the book. He got on my every nerve and was constantly contradicting himself and he was just overall the most annoying and horrible person there was. Overall, it was a good book I just wish there was a bit more.
About the Author
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 (Conbini 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).
Have you read this?
One thought on “Book Review | Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata”
I haven’t read this, but I noticed it has been getting a lot of attention lately. I’m sorry this one doesn’t really work for you.