Convenience Store Woman
Written by Sayaka Murata
Translated by Ginny Tapley Takemori
Release Date: June 12, 2018
Electronic ARC from Netgalley
Keiko Furukura had always been considered a strange child, and her parents always worried how she would get on in the real world, so when she takes on a job in a convenience store while at university, they are delighted for her. For her part, in the convenience store she finds a predictable world mandated by the store manual, which dictates how the workers should act and what they should say, and she copies her coworkers’ style of dress and speech patterns so that she can play the part of a normal person. However, eighteen years later, at age 36, she is still in the same job, has never had a boyfriend, and has only few friends. She feels comfortable in her life, but is aware that she is not living up to society’s expectations and causing her family to worry about her. When a similarly alienated but cynical and bitter young man comes to work in the store, he will upset Keiko’s contented stasis—but will it be for the better?
Sayaka Murata brilliantly captures the atmosphere of the familiar convenience store that is so much part of life in Japan. With some laugh-out-loud moments prompted by the disconnect between Keiko’s thoughts and those of the people around her, she provides a sharp look at Japanese society and the pressure to conform, as well as penetrating insights into the female mind. Convenience Store Woman is a fresh, charming portrait of an unforgettable heroine that recalls Banana Yoshimoto, Han Kang, and Amélie.
Keiko is the main character in this story. Her thinking process is very different from everyone else that from a young age she could understand that she was the odd one out. Throughout the story we see that Keiko is doing her best to fit in with others by mimicking everyone around her (her friends and coworkers). As an Asian American there were times where I could understand the need to be like everyone else. I grew frustrated at times when Keiko became more subdued once she met that male co-worker of hers. I was expecting the introduction of the male character to make her question everything she believed in, but I feel as if she just accepted him for who he was and used him for her needs. While meeting him did make Keiko realize what was important to her there was not enough impact to make her revelation memorable. I just silently cheered for her future happiness.
Read in February 2018