Convenience Store Women – Sayaka Murata

Convenience Store Women is the first book I read from Sayaka Murata. This month at the British Library, an event called Japan Now will be held. As a huge Japanese literature enthusiast, I will be there. Sayaka Murata is one of the most popular names of the event. This book was on my list for the next months, but I had to read it right away for this event. I’m so happy I’ve read it now that I’m more then ready to meet the author. There is all the oddity of Japanese literature in this little book.


Convenience Store Women - Sayaka Murata

Marrying, making children and working

Convenience Store Women tells the story of Keiko, and she is not normal in terms of societies expectations. We listen to the story from her point of view. On the very first pages of the book, Keiko does something quite striking when she was a little child. That is where the readers understand that Keiko is not normal. However, as the book progresses, it is the question of whether Keiko or other people are the normal ones. Marrying, making children and working. Would you criticise a person who didn’t do these three despite his/her age? Or two? Or one of them? (If you stop for a moment when answering, you need to read this book.) Enjoy!


About the book: Convenience Store Women

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.

About the author: Sayaka Murata

Sayaka Murata is a Japanese writer. She has won the Gunzo Prize for New Writers, the Mishima Yukio Prize, the Noma Literary New Face Prize, and the Akutagawa Prize.

Convenience Store Women - Sayaka Murata

Reading this book contributed to these challenges: 

Japanese Literature – A Literary Journey

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