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Convenience Store Woman (2016)

by Sayaka Murata

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,5661228,678 (3.78)150
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?… (more)
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» See also 150 mentions

English (109)  German (4)  Spanish (2)  Piratical (1)  Italian (1)  Danish (1)  Finnish (1)  French (1)  All languages (120)
Showing 1-5 of 109 (next | show all)
I bought this so I could joke that someone wrote a sequel to Stefan Zweig’s “Post Office Girl”, but upon actually reading it, I find more parallels with the Kenan and Kel film “Good Burger”. Both are about an ostensibly autistic but sympathetic character who’s slavishly devoted to their dead-end job, and both end up using this character to expose ills of society that we too often take for granted, down to disturbing details like dreaming about being on the job.

Given the length, the story itself was lacking, and “Convenience Store Woman” is much more a character study than an actual novel… that being said, I don’t understand people who didn’t like Keiko. She takes everything so literally, which leads to some good jokes, but the narrative is never at expense of her, and I found her intensely sympathetic. Going against the stereotype of autistic being inhuman, she’s the most human character in the whole narrative, and the vessel by which the inhumanness of modern society is exposed. Seeing the world through her eyes made me think differently about a lot of what we put up with in the name of capitalism, but the story never felt mean-spirited towards her quirkiness. ( )
  jooniper | Sep 10, 2021 |
Summer 2021 pandemic resurgence/Delta variant read. Loved the cover, really liked the world view in the book. Well done. We watch a lot of Japanese shows and like the bits of culture we pick up. I'd place this between Midnight Cafe and Sweettooth Salaryman in enjoyment (both on netflix) ( )
  bookczuk | Sep 5, 2021 |
A quick read about a quirky woman who tries her best to fit in. ( )
  Amzzz | Aug 18, 2021 |
Keiko Furukura has never quite fit in. Behavioral norms baffle her. When she’s young and two boys are fighting in the schoolyard, she hits one over the head with a shovel to break up the fight. She can’t understand why her teachers and parents are upset because it was a successful tactic–the fight ended.

So when she lands a job working in a convenience store in college, she’s happy. The store looks clean and fresh, like a fish bowl. Her manager gives her a script to work from when dealing with customers. Cold drinks sell on hot days and warm drinks sell on cold days. Life is predictable. Eighteen years pass and society is again pressuring her, asking when she’s going to get a “real” job, get married, start a family. She’s puzzled again, wondering why a life that makes her happy is being judged so negatively.

I wasn’t quite sure to what to expect when I downloaded this book from the library but I liked it. It’s quirky and funny but there’s a lot of substance lurking beneath the exterior.

I won’t hazard a guess as to what might be “wrong” with Keiko but she really doesn’t think like most other people. But is that bad? She isn’t hurting anyone, she’s fulfilled by her job, she doesn’t feel any urge to be intimate with anyone, so why can’t others leave her alone? Why does her family want to “cure” her? She doesn’t even understand what she needs to be cured of.

This slender book left me with a lot to ponder. Why can’t we as a society leave the nonconformists alone? Why do we label jobs as “real” or not? Shouldn’t we see any job that fills a need as a “real” job? And Keiko made me see the beauty of any job done well.

This book won’t be for everyone because not a lot actually happens. But if you want to see the world through the eyes of an outsider, give it a try. ( )
  JG_IntrovertedReader | Aug 14, 2021 |
For those who like the book, it is a satisfactory ending. Keiko abandoned conformity and went back to the convenience store. She will forever be an alien in society but that is where she is most comfortable. You have to ask what is wrong with that. Keiko loves her job and is a model employee; her whole life anchors around her so-called modest job. How many of u are like her? Putting 100 percent into our job. Oh, and I so missed Japan, and all those visits to convenience stores, where we forage the shelves for souvenirs to bring back home. ( )
  siok | Jul 31, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 109 (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

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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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?

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Book description
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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