Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata

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The book is hard to define; let’s just say that it is a weird social commentary, an exercise in hyperbole, a paean to order and, not least, a celebration of the complex design that goes unnoticed by all who step into the humble convenience store.
-Star Tribune

Synopsis

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 Sayaka Murata

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Published June 12, 2018 by Grove Press. 176 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Fiction
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Critic reviews for Convenience Store Woman
All: 3 | Positive: 3 | Negative: 0

Star Tribune

Good
Reviewed by Katherine A. Powers on Sep 11 2018

The book is hard to define; let’s just say that it is a weird social commentary, an exercise in hyperbole, a paean to order and, not least, a celebration of the complex design that goes unnoticed by all who step into the humble convenience store.

Read Full Review of Convenience Store Woman | See more reviews from Star Tribune

Guardian

Good
Reviewed by Emily Rhodes on Aug 09 2018

For readers who are less familiar with Japan, Murata conjures it in all its fascinating otherness, while giving us a protagonist whose tussle with accepting who she is while trying to fit in is universally familiar.

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Guardian

Above average
Reviewed by Julie Myerson on Aug 07 2018

But these are minor quibbles and perhaps even missing the point. For it’s the novel’s cumulative, idiosyncratic poetry that lingers, attaining a weird, fluorescent kind of beauty all of its own.

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