- About the Book
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 Am lie.
Convenience Store Woman is Murata's 10th novel, and her first to be translated into English. This work has been done adroitly by Ginny Tapley Takemori. She makes any number of good decisions... Convenience Store Woman is short, and it casts a fluorescent spell. Like a convenience store, it is chilly; it makes you wish you had brought a sweater. At the same time, it's the kind of performance that leaves you considering the difference between exploring interesting topics and actually being interesting.... I have mixed feelings about Convenience Store Woman, but there is no doubt that it is a thrifty and offbeat exploration of what we must each leave behind to participate in the world.
—New York Times
—New York Times
Convenience Store Woman, Sayaka Murata's English-language debut and winner of Japan's revered Akutagawa Prize, is a quiet masterpiece that offers a refreshing perspective on human nature through the disarming observations of a social misfit.... Keiko's forthright voice is utterly convincing in its lack of affect and guile, pitched somewhere between the quirky earnestness of Marie Kondo's The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up and the bemused logic of Star Trek's Mr. Spock. Misfit heroes have won our hearts before... Yet seldom has a narrator been so true to a lack of self, and so triumphantly other.
CONVENIENCE STORE WOMAN by Sayaka Murata is not a thriller or a political novel or even a sprawling multigenerational saga. Instead, it's a slim, spare and difficult-to-define little book, both very funny and achingly sad in turns, told from the point of view of a woman who's trying to find her place in the world.... Ginny Tapley Takemori's translation from the original Japanese effectively conveys the awkwardness and unintentional humor in Keiko's narrative voice. In addition, CONVENIENCE STORE WOMAN offers American readers a glimpse into a different culture. Japanese convenience stores, with their vast array of packaged foods, seasonal specials and prepared meals, are a far cry from most corner bodegas. But this empathetic novel is also a touching exploration of loneliness and alienation, feelings and conditions that, for better or for worse, can be recognized by people worldwide.