Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata

Posted August 24, 2018 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Contemporary / 4 Comments

Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka MurataTitle: Convenience Store Woman (Goodreads)
Author: Sayaka Murata
Translator: Ginny Tapley Takemori
Published: Portobello Books, 2016
Pages: 176
Genres: Contemporary
My Copy: Paperback

Buy: AmazonBook DepositoryKindleWordery (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

Longlisted for the BTBA 2019

The latest literary sensation seems to be Convenience Store Woman, this book is everywhere but maybe because it is currently WITMonth (Women in Translation Month). This is a dark comedy that explores the life of Keiko, who never felt like she fit in with society. She took a job in a convenience store and now eighteen years later she feels like this is where she belongs. Thanks to the convenience store manual she knows exactly how she is meant to act and behave.

Convenience Store Woman dives into society and starts questioning what we consider social norms. For Keiko she feels comfortable working in a convenience store. However for everyone else, they think something is wrong with her. To them, she should have moved on to a better job, gotten married and had kids. This is a brutal look at how damaging social norms can be as the reader follows Keiko dealing with these outside pressures that society have put on her.

The novel is constantly questioning this idea of what people call ‘normal’ and wants us to consider why it is so important. Keiko seemed like a happy person, she liked the structure and the routine of being a convenience store worker. She may be socially awkward or odd but why would that matter to everyone else in the world? We see the damage social pressure puts on this woman.

I loved this novel because it explored this important social issue so flawlessly. There is constant pressure put on people that is so unnecessary. For example, I have been married for almost nine years now and the question of children is always being asked. What if we do not want children? Or what if we cannot have children? I have witnessed this pressure and how damaging it can be. You are basically saying, ‘this person is not human because they will not conform to my expectations of what makes a person normal’. That whole attitude makes me so angry. People should be able to live their own lives the way that choose to do so.

As you can see, Convenience Store Woman has had an effect on me. It was such a pleasure to read this dark and humorous book but the feeling of anger still runs strong within me. I am pleased to see this novel getting so much attention, and I hope this is another small step towards allowing others to live their own true self.

Unrelated but I need to memorialise this event, when telling my wife that I had finished reading Convenience Store Woman, she thought I said I inconvenienced all women.

4 responses to “Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata

  1. I read this recently and liked it a lot. I think that maybe Keiko has autism, hence her need for routine and her lack of understanding of social conventions. I’ve also had that harassment about not having children from a lot of people. It’s a cruel thing to question anyone about, because as you say, there are many reasons why people don’t have kids. It can be very hurtful, and people should just FO and mind their own business.

  2. This was a great read! I’m glad it’s getting so much attention. I hope we’ll get the chance to read more of Sayaka Murata’s work in translation sometime in the future.

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