Tag: Convenience Store Woman

Distracted by Other Books

Posted September 11, 2018 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Monthly Reading / 14 Comments

My Thoughts and Reading in August 2018

August is Women in Translations month, which means there is a big influx of people reading translations, even the publishers and big bookish media seem to promote the event. This feels like a double edge sword for me, while I love that more people are reading from my corner of the bookish world, there are plenty of cringe worthy moments to be had as well. There are people who like to make themselves the authority of the topic despite showing no interest previously in the male/female balance in the world of translations. Admittedly this reaction I have is just my grumpiness coming to play and in reality I should be thankful to see so many people participate in a month dedicated to reading women in translations. For those that did not want to dedicate a whole month, some BookTubers even put together a Women in Translations readathon, but I will not be discussing my problem with readathons here.

I had planned my reading month, thinking that while vacationing around Tasmania I would have more reading time than expected. I packed four books to read during the trip, plus a kindle but I only managed to complete one novel during that entire trip, and it was not even a book I was enjoying. Prior to my vacation, I had read Convenience Store Woman, a book that I still think about to this day. The hype surrounding this book is justified. I also read The Door with my wife, which was discussed on the latest episode of Lost in Translations. Before my trip, I scheduled six reviews for my blog, all being women in translations. I am pleased to say, that I am pretty much up to date with reviewing, as I have made the choice not to review every book I read. I want to spend more time writing essays and improving my writing abilities so while reviews seem to be an important aspect of my blog, I hope this means that I will write more.

Tasmania was an amazing experience, I have not been there before and I really enjoyed the cold weather. I got to experience snow falling for the first time, most non-Australians might think this is not as special as I make it out to be. The book I read while away was Oneiron; it was not for me, and I really struggled to get through it. I understand what Laura Lindstedt was trying to do by putting these women in this situation and have them reflect on their lives but I was disappointed. I did however start Aracoeli and I am having a much better experience. Elsa Morante is a wonderful writer and for those who do not know her, she is one of the authors that influenced the writing of Elene Ferrante.

During my trip I visited bookstores every chance I got, which did leave me with a much heavier bag by the end of the trip. I wanted to limit my purchasing by focusing on expanding my women in translation collection but I failed at that. So many stores seemed to have a very limited selection for translations, which is fast becoming the biggest downside of my reading niche. The feeling of leaving a bookstore empty handed is heart breaking for a book lover. However, if I started to complain about the amount of books I did end up purchasing, I would be lying to myself. I have so many amazing books to read, I just need to find the time.

After Tasmania we stopped in Melbourne for the weekend and attended the Melbourne Writers Festival. This year had an amazing line up and I think I want to write about what I saw in a different post. The festival has inspired me to be more active in my blogging and to write more pieces, so let’s see if it pays off. The final book I read before going back to work was Sofi Oksanen’s novel Purge. Previously I read When the Doves Disappeared which I liked but did not love, honestly, I think Purge is a far superior novel. Because it was Women in Translations month, I think it is necessary to check my reading stats to see if I have a balanced reading life this year. I am pleased to say that 75% of my reading have been translations, which is indicative of my passion. With 52% being books written by women. I hope to maintain this balance, but I know how easy it is to have the statistics change.

Happy reading everyone.

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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.


Distracted by Other Books

Posted August 2, 2018 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Monthly Reading / 7 Comments

My Thoughts and Reading in July 2018

I do not know if it is just a mid-year thing, or just a feeling but I have been feeling highly critical of my blogging lately. For the past month I have been plagued with the thought of deleting everything and starting fresh. Rebranding and focusing on my passion for translated literature. Ironically this is the month I celebrate nine years blogging as Knowledge Lost. There was a time where I had two blogs, the other was a dedicated book blog called Literary Exploration but I merged them into one a few years ago. Now I just want to dump all my writing and start fresh. Knowing full well that if I did take such an extreme action that I would regret it. Part of me loves that I can view my old writing and see how much I have improved, and the other just wants to make it disappear.

If I was to start fresh I would focus a hundred percent on translated literature, and look for ways to promote them. I would probably make it an extension of Lost in Translations. There is also a part of me that would love to see something collaborative dedicated to promoting translations, but past experiences make me wary of collaborations. I know something like this would be awesome but I know how quickly people lost their passion for a project like this.  These feelings are disconcerting because all I want to do is promote literature, particularly books in translation but I feel like no one is listening.

Knowledge Lost has always been a place to store all my writing and even if I feel shame towards most of it, I know I would regret losing it. I have to work past my feelings of angst towards past me but I do not know the best way forward. I do think this is just a feeling that will pass but it is taking far too long. I feel plagued and my mind is going around in circles. If this is the biggest life problem I have, I should be thankful. I am curious to see if I will come up with a satisfactory solution or if the feeling will just fade away.

A slow reading month might be the effects of these feeling but it has not caused me to slow down in writing. In fact I have set aside an hour every week day after work to just focus on blogging. This has helped me increase my output on posts. I participated in the Spanish and Portuguese reading month hosted by Winstonsdad’s Blog and Caravana de Recuerdos, mainly because I had a few books I needed to review from Latin America. I do think that being a part of a community helps push me to be more active and I really appreciate that. I need the motivation and if I end up not blogging, I normally get annoyed with myself.

The first book I finished in July was The Neighborhood by Mario Vargas Llosa, which was translated by legendary translator Edith Grossman. I enjoyed so much about this novel but the sex scenes really ruined the experience for me. I have already posted a review on this one and I do not think there is anything else to say about The Neighborhood. They Know Not What They Do by Jussi Valtonen, (translated by Kristian London) was the biggest let down of my month and might have contributed to a slow reading month. It was marketed as a psychological satire and the back says it is the book for fans of Jonathan Franzen and Dave Eggers. My experience was just a five hundred page generic thriller. While I can see how it might compare to something like Dave Eggers The Circle, I was far from impressed. I love a good satirical novel but I think there are two types, the one that thinks it is clever but is just exploring the same ideas repeatedly because it cares more about the plot or the one that subtly works in some ideas that will leave the reader thinking. Or to put is simply, the ones that tells you what to think and the ones that make you think. They Know Not What They Do very much had its own ideas and you can get that information by reading the synopsis.

Luckily the two other books I read this month were both amazing, one being The True Deceiver by Tove Jansson (translated by Thomas Teal) and the other was La Bastarda by Trifonia Melibea Obono, (translated by Lawrence Schimel). I want to talk about both in greater detail, so you might have to wait for the reviews. The True Deceiver is the second Tove Jansson novel I have read (Fair Play was the other) and I really appreciate the character studies she does in her books. Both feature two women and their relationship with each other and both are well worth reading. La Bastarda is the first novel by an Equatorial Guinean woman to be translated into English, which in itself is pretty exciting. I have so much I want to say, in regards to Fang culture and how this novel relates to Western culture but you will have to wait for the review. All I can say for now is that it is well worth reading.

I was distracted all month long with my thoughts on blogging but that did not stop me from being distracted by other books. I have currently three books on the go now and am eagerly awaiting August. Not because it is Women in Translations month but also because I will have some much needed vacation time, where I get to travel to Tasmania and then I will be attending the Melbourne Writers Festival. I bought two new books which might be read in August but surprisingly I did not add any new books to my wishlist. I know I have thought about all the other books I want to be reading but they were mostly other books I own. I hope August is a better month for me.

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