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Convenience Store Woman (2016)

by Sayaka Murata

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
3,0021934,567 (3.77)216
Fiction. Literature. HTML:The English-language debut of one of Japan's most talented contemporary writers, selling over 650,000 copies there, 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… (more)

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» See also 216 mentions

English (176)  German (4)  French (2)  Spanish (2)  Portuguese (1)  Dutch (1)  Finnish (1)  Danish (1)  Italian (1)  Piratical (1)  All languages (190)
Showing 1-5 of 176 (next | show all)
Quirky account of Keiko, a young woman who has tried (andfailed) to fit in all her life. She finds purpose working in the convenience store, but for friends and family this makes her a "social dropout". Friends and family pressure her to strive for more...a career, husband, and family. Will these changes make her feel more useful? Can she give up the convenience store? ( )
  Chrissylou62 | Apr 11, 2024 |
Odd but not bad ( )
  xfitkitten | Apr 6, 2024 |
I think I personally found this more sad than funny, although I was pleased with the ending! The setting of the convenience store is definitely charming at times, with all its quirky people and snacks and orderliness. At other times I was just taken back to my times working at similar jobs (retail positions where employees are expected to do so much without any thanks) and just wanted the characters to actually show appreciation for Keiko and not just focus on what they thought was wrong with her. I suppose the commentary pointing out the expectations held for what counts as a "real" job, getting married, and how those are different for men and women in Japan is interesting, but also a bit flat/surface-level. Finally, it's just a bit unnerving to find threads of actual mental unrest go so unaddressed? Keiko obviously needs a little help (the part of her thinking about silencing the baby is the biggest standout) but the author just seemed to use this to mark her as "odd" and then take the story in another direction. All together it just felt a little jumbled. ( )
  deborahee | Feb 23, 2024 |
Turning Japanese

Keiko is a worker at a convenience store. Well, more than a worker. Although only part time, her work defines her. Completely.

She uses the workers’ manual as her guide for living. It makes life easy. Everything is well-defined. How to greet customers, when to replenish supples, the roster. She eats the store food so not only her mind, but her body is made from convenience store. She lives for the convenience store, earring and sleeping adequately in order that she fulfill her role perfectly. Life is good.

The problem is that the rest of the world has expects something else from her. At 36, working part-time at a convenience store and unmarried does not fit Japan’s social expectations. an opportunity arises for Keiko to fix this.

She takes in a homeless man, Shiraha who regards her as old and too ugly for sex. Keiko is not phased. She is not interested in men or sex of any kind. She treats him as she would a pet. Her house is small and in the day Shiraha sits fully-clothed in the empty bath, playing with his phone. She brings him his food on a plate and he eats it in there.

Things are going well for Keiko. Her family and friends accept her, pleased that she has a man. But when her sister-in-law drops by and sees the living arrangements she’s horrified. Keiko is nonplussed. What’s she done wrong? She’s no longer perceived as single, and her part-time low-level job should now be acceptable seeing as she is living with a man. But it’s obviously not. She’s not accepted and has now no manual to instruct her.

Shiraha also has problems with the outside world. He wants to hide from everyone. He doesn’t want to abide by the social rules which he regards as no better than those of cavemen. Their worlds are falling apart. What can they do?

Convenience store woman is a delightful novella. Murata is able to combine pathos with humor. This situation is believable. It’s a parable, a take not just on Japanese life but on life everywhere. Perhaps Shiraha is right and we really haven’t advanced since the Stone Age. ( )
  kjuliff | Feb 20, 2024 |
Hmm... Having read Convenience Store Woman some time after Earthlings, I can't help but notice that both books seem to tackle much of the same themes, so much so that at times I felt the two books could have coexisted within each other. This book definitely solidified for me that I am a fan of Murata's writing and I will certainly be consuming any future works that she puts out. ( )
  brookeklebe | Feb 6, 2024 |
Showing 1-5 of 176 (next | show all)
...for all the disturbance and oddity in “Convenience Store Woman,” the book dares the reader to interpret it as a happy story about a woman who has managed to craft her own “good life.”
 
Convenience Store Woman closely observes the inevitable failures of a society to embrace all within it, and the contrasting ways disenfranchised men and women manage to cope... Through the eyes of perceptive, dispassionate Keiko, the ways in which we’re all commodified and reduced to our functions become clear. What’s unclear is what other option we have. We all want to be individuals, and yet we also want to fit in somewhere. We all want to be seen for our own intangible humanity, and yet we see others for their utility.
 
Murata’s slim and stunning Akutagawa Prize–winning novel follows 36-year-old Keiko Furukura, who has been working at the same convenience store for the last 18 years, outlasting eight managers and countless customers and coworkers.... Murata’s smart and sly novel, her English-language debut, is a critique of the expectations and restrictions placed on single women in their 30s. This is a moving, funny, and unsettling story about how to be a “functioning adult” in today’s world
added by Lemeritus | editPublishers Weekly (Apr 9, 2018)
 
A sly take on modern work culture and social conformism, told through one woman’s 18-year tenure as a convenience store employee.... Murata provides deceptively sharp commentary on the narrow social slots people—particularly women—are expected to occupy and how those who deviate can inspire bafflement, fear, or anger in others.... A unique and unexpectedly revealing English language debut.
added by Lemeritus | editKirkus Reviews (Mar 20, 2018)
 
In Sayaka Murata’s “Convenience Store Woman,” a small, elegant and deadpan novel from Japan, a woman senses that society finds her strange, so she culls herself from the herd before anyone else can do it. She becomes an anonymous, long-term employee of the Hiiromachi Station Smile Mart, a convenience store, a kiosk for her floating soul...“Convenience Store Woman” has touched a chord in Japan, where it has sold close to 600,000 copies....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.
 

» Add other authors (27 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Sayaka Murataprimary authorall editionscalculated
Bornas, MarinaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Coci, GianlucaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Emond, VibekeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gräfe, UrsulaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Holm, MetteTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nolla, AlbertTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tamae-Bouhon, MathildeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tapley Takemori, GinnyTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Van Haute, LukTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wu, NancyNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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A convenience store is a world of sound.
Quotations
But so far as I could see, aside from a few minor differences they were all just an animal called a baby and looked much the same, just like stray cats all looked much the same.
I find the shape of people's eyes particularly interesting when they’re being condescending. I see a wariness or a fear of being contradicted or sometimes a belligerent spark ready to jump on any attack.  And if they’re unaware of being condescending, their glazed-over eyeballs are steeped in a fluid mix of ecstasy and a sense of superiority.
...you should really either get a job or get married, one or the other...Or better still, you should do both.
I couldn’t stop hearing the store telling me the way it wanted to be, what it needed.  It was all flowing into me. It wasn’t me speaking. It was the store. I was just channeling its revelations from on high
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Fiction. Literature. HTML:The English-language debut of one of Japan's most talented contemporary writers, selling over 650,000 copies there, 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

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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. 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...
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