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Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata
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Convenience Store Woman (2016)

by Sayaka Murata

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» See also 62 mentions

English (31)  German (3)  Spanish (1)  Piratical (1)  All languages (36)
Showing 1-5 of 31 (next | show all)
This is a strange, quirky, atmospheric novella translated from Japanese.
It’s difficult for me to rate it because I’m fascinated by this little book, but also I don’t think I liked it very much. I thought the story was just ok, fine. But then the writing and the world she creates just seeped into my brain and long after I’ve finished it I can still feel all the weirdness. Murata is a talented storyteller. Her main character, Keiko, talks about how the convenience store is a part of her and in a way this book is a part of me now. ( )
  Yoh | Apr 17, 2019 |
Keiko is an oddball. She always has been. Now 36 years, old she has been working in the same convenience store for eighteen years. She counts how many hours that is, how many managers have come and gone in her time there since the day the store opened. She eats just enough food to feed her body to get through her shifts. Keiko finds it hard to fit in.

Which is why the convenience store helps her to survive. The routine, the company rules, the store manual – all of these give her structure. She looks to others to give her an image of how she should be; she mimics the way others speak and copies their style of clothes. Then she allows an ex-colleague to move in with her, both of them thinking that the outward appearance of a couple living together will make them fit in to the wider society – Keiko’s family and friends cannot understand how a woman in her 30s can still work part-time in a convenience store. But this move, rather than solving anything, only makes matters worse and, leaving her employment, Keiko feels even more of a disconnect from the world. By the end of the book she finds herself tidying up and rearranging shelves in another convenience store and realises that this, indeed, is her true calling.

Anyone who has ever worked in retail or a job with routine will recognise moments of comedy as Keiko describes her world, but there are also points that really make you think about what society expects of us. In Japan in particular the needs of the individual and the needs of the wider society often provoke discussion, and this novel clearly resonates in a country desperately trying to adjust to being a more outward-looking modern nation. But many of the issues raised affect us all: how much should we care how others view us? Should conformity (to work, marriage, appearance) stifle individuality? When does alienation become mental illness?

This award-winning short novel (coming in at under 200 pages it is a quick read) is both light-hearted and serious in its intent, and the character of Keiko – for all her faults and dubious ethics – is a joy. A good read – I thoroughly enjoyed it. ( )
  Alan.M | Apr 16, 2019 |
An excellent, and extremely quirky book from Japan. The story of a 36 year old part time convenience store worker who struggles to understand the world. Possibly on the Asperger spectrum, she finds comfort in the ritualised behaviour required of the convenience store workers.
If the aim of a book is to transport you to s different time and place - this one succeeded brilliantly. ( )
  mbmackay | Apr 13, 2019 |
I loved listening to Convenience Store Woman. Convenience stores in Japan sell everything from food to clothing to household goods and Keiko Furukura, the main character, is a convenience store worker. Keiko is a bit of a social outcast and can not read social cues. I would say that she is Aspbergery. Over time, with plenty of input from her sister, Keiko has learned to copy others behaviors and to respond to questions with pat answers so that she can fit in. Conformity in Japan is very important. Keiko, now 36, has been working at the same convenience store since high school. The job is very routine, Keiko knows exactly what is expected of her, she's good at her job and she enjoys it. However the outside world and her high school friends, who are mostly married or working high level jobs, look down on convenience store workers. Keiko finds another misfit at the store, Shiraha, who eventually gets fired because he is lazy and slouches on the job. Keiko invites him to move in with her which is a win win for both them - society expects everyone to get married and live happily ever after and this way they can pretend to be a couple. In reality, Shiraha is mean, demanding and sleeps in the bathtub and expects Keiko to feed him. Eventually Keiko quits her job but once she starts interviewing for other jobs, Keiko realizes that all she wants to do is go back to work at a convenience store which she in fact does. ( )
  KatherineGregg | Apr 11, 2019 |
Woah! What a crazy bizarre story! Or is it really Japanese life that is crazy and bizarre? I have no idea, but I enjoyed reading this book and imagining that the lives described are only one step away from reality. I could relate directly to some aspects of the underlying story, however, despite my cultural distance. I suspect that Japanese society and its conformity pressures are not as far from my own society as I would hope. ( )
  oldblack | Apr 6, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 31 (next | show all)
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.
 
Not all novel titles manage so very literally to describe the contents, but this one – unapologetically deadpan yet enticingly comic – absolutely does...This, Murata’s 10th novel, has been a big hit both in Japan and worldwide, and it isn’t hard to see why. It’s not flawless: Shiraha seems to be more of a plot enabler than fully realised character and, though Murata’s gloriously nutty deadpan prose and even more nuttily likable narrator are irresistible, I’d have liked more on her latent psychopathic streak...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.. The book’s title is more than perfect, for this, you soon realise, is a love story. Keiko’s love story: the convenience is all hers.
 

» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Murata, SayakaAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Tapley Takemori, GinnyTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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A convenience store is a world of sound.
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Book description
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. 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 a world hidden from view, Convenience Store Woman is an ironic and sharp-eyed look at contemporary work culture and the pressures we all feel to conform, as well as a charming and completely fresh portrait of an unforgettable heroine.

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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?… (more)

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