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Convenience Store Woman (2016)

by Sayaka Murata

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,0037414,250 (3.77)125
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 125 mentions

English (65)  German (3)  Spanish (2)  Italian (1)  Piratical (1)  All languages (72)
Showing 1-5 of 65 (next | show all)
I read this because it was chosen by the reading group I'm part of. An excellent choice! Translated from Japanese, it features Keiko, a mid-thirties woman who has worked for 18 years at the same convenience store.

She has all the hallmarks of autism, but feels that she's found her niche... except that her sister and friends want her to be different. And then she meets someone who is even more of a misfit - a true antihero with nothing likeable about him.

It's light-hearted and poignant, expressing brilliantly the way an autistic mind can work, to the extent that I could begin to see the craziness of so-called 'normal' people's expectations.

Definitely recommended.

Longer review here: https://suesbookreviews.blogspot.com/2020/07/convenience-store-woman-by-sayaka-m... ( )
  SueinCyprus | Jul 4, 2020 |
This is a strange short book about a woman who works in a convenience store. She is hard-working and diligent and should be a perfect employee, but other people have different expectations of her - to get a better job or get married. It's a short read and memorable, but I didn't especially click with it. ( )
  AlisonSakai | Jun 8, 2020 |
Keiko is a bit odd. She’s always been that way. Sometimes her oddity expresses itself in an overly literal take on the world. That caused problems when she was a little girl. So these days she is more careful. She observes her peers closely, watching for how they react to things, how they speak, the clothes they wear, the make-up, and she does her best to mimic their “normal” behaviour. Fortunately she found her niche one day when she was in university. She came upon a convenience store that was about to open for the first time and put in an application for part-time employment. With its manual of operations, standard phrases that must be used in meeting and greeting customers, precise rules about how the stock needs to be refreshed or rearranged and why, Keiko knew she had found precisely the environment that would cater to her peculiarity. She embraced her life as a convenience store worker. Eighteen years pass in this way and now Keiko is wondering whether she needs to make an adjustment in order to once again pass as “normal”. Minor life eruptions ensue.

On the surface this is a quirky novel of a slightly maladjusted individual and how she gets by. It trades on that easy device of the Aspergers spectrum in order to make anything that Keiko says or does instantly explicable. Everything is chalked up to her particular oddity. But of course something that explains everything effectively ends up explaining nothing. The reader’s response is held at bay since even challenging what is presented in such cases is frowned upon. I just find such writing unimaginative and uninsightful. But maybe it’s just me. Perhaps other readers will find this light fare charming.

Alas, for me, not recommended. ( )
  RandyMetcalfe | Jun 4, 2020 |
A strange, absorbing little book that made me think about how I relate to other people's life choices. I like to think that I live and let live, but it's true that if someone is going off the beaten path in a way that doesn't seem to make any sense to those around them, it is hard to accept. This book takes that experience to extreme conclusions, and I enjoyed the journey. ( )
  nancyjean19 | Jun 3, 2020 |
really charmed to find out the author worked at a convenience store for 18 years ( )
  uncleflannery | May 16, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 65 (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 (1 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Sayaka Murataprimary authorall editionscalculated
Bornas, MarinaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Coci, GianlucaTranslatorsecondary 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
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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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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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