Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka MurataConvenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata

Convenience Store Woman

bySayaka MurataTranslated byGinny Tapley Takemori

Hardcover | June 22, 2018

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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'apos; style of dress and speech patterns so that she can play thepart 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'apos;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'apos;s contented stasis--but will it be for the better?

Sayaka Murata brilliantly captures the atmosphere of the familiar convenience store that is so much part of life in Japan. With some laugh-out-loud moments prompted by the disconnect between Keiko'apos;s thoughts and those of the people around her, she provides a sharp look at Japanese society and the pressure to conform, as well as penetrating insights into the female mind.Convenience Store Woman is a fresh, charming portrait of an unforgettable heroine that recalls Banana Yoshimoto, Han Kang, andAmelie.
Sayaka Murata is the author of many books, includingConvenience Store Woman, winner of Japan'apos;s most prestigious literary prize, the Akutagawa Prize. She continues to work part-time in a convenience store, which inspired this novel. Murata has been named aFreeman'apos;s Future of New Writing" author, and her work has appeared inGra...
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Title:Convenience Store WomanFormat:HardcoverDimensions:176 pages, 7 × 5 × 0.78 inPublished:June 22, 2018Publisher:Grove/AtlanticLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0802128254

ISBN - 13:9780802128256

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Reviews

Rated 4 out of 5 by from I really liked this odd book I loved reading <i> Convenience Store Woman </i>, watching the day-to-day of Keiko's life at work and at rest as she tries to figure out how best to live her life.
Date published: 2018-08-14
Rated 3 out of 5 by from A quirky little gem Thank you to Netgalley, Grove Press and Sayaka Murata for an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest e4. This is a gem of a novel. It might be small in page numbers but it is big on pleasure! It is quirky and offbeat just like the main character. Her name is Keiko and she is an odd duck. She doesn’t understand the world in the same way that most people do. She has to learn how to behave by observing those in her environment and these are things that don’t come easily for her. Keiko watches videos and copies people’s facial expressions and tone of voice but doesn’t understand the feelings behind them. Her logic, however, is impeccable, if not always appropriate. When she was small, two boys were fighting in the school playground. Everyone was telling them to stop, so Keiko picked up a shovel and smashed it over the boy’s head. She thought she solved the problem and expected people would be happy but was surprised her parents were called into the school and she got into trouble. Her parents are so sad for her. They had high hopes that she would be more like her sister but as Keiko got older she never changed. In high school Keiko found a job at a convenience store. She made an excellent employee, a hard worker, alway on time, never missing a day. Here she is today, at age 36, not married, no children and still working at a job most people would have left behind years ago. Keiko is very happy with her life, but is starting to feel pressure from those around her to succumb to societal pressures and be more “normal”. Should she upend her life just to fit in. Who is to say what is the right way to live? Is there only one right way? Set in Japan, where there is a stricter code of what is acceptable in society, Keiko is faced with a real dilemma. I really enjoyed this book and I thought it raised a lot of provocative questions. The story is told simply and doesn’t delve deep, never giving us too many answers. Rather, it allows the reader to think for themselves. It is a slice of life with some humour mixed in. I found the style of writing interesting because it reads in almost a broken English. It reminds me of the way a person who speaks Japanese might speak if English was their second language. All the characters in this story are delightful even when don’t root for them. We never learn why Keiko is different. She is never labelled with, for example, autism, which I think is awesome. She just is who she is. People exist on a spectrum with a wide range of emotions and behaviours. Who are we to interfere with anyone’s right to live the life they choose. Dropping in on Keiko’s life reminds us that everyone has their own definition of happiness and if you are brave enough you can live your best life.
Date published: 2018-06-08

Editorial Reviews

Praise for Convenience Store Woman :An Amazon Best Book of the Month (Literature and Fiction)An Elle Magazine Best Summer Book PickOne of Vogue 's Books to Thrill, Entertain, and Sustain You This Summer Keiko, a defiantly oddball 36-year-old woman, has worked in a dead-end job as a convenience store cashier in Tokyo for half her life. She lives alone and has never been in a romantic relationship, or even had sex. And she is perfectly happy with all of it . . . Written in plain-spoken prose, the slim volume focuses on a character who in many ways personifies a demographic panic in Japan." - Motoko Rich, New York Times "Alienation gets deliciously perverse treatment in Convenience Store Woman . . . Murata herself spent years as a convenience store employee. And one pleasure of this book is her detailed portrait of how such a place actually works. Yet the book's true brilliance lies in Murata's way of subverting our expectations . . . With bracing good humor . . . Murata celebrate[s] the quiet heroism of women who accept the cost of being themselves." - John Powers, NPR "The novel borrows from Gothic romance, in its pairing of the human and the alluringly, dangerously not . It is a love story, in other words, about a misfit and a store . . . Keiko's self-renunciations reveal the book to be a kind of grim post-capitalist reverie: she is an anti-Bartleby, abandoning any shred of identity outside of her work . . . It may make readers anxious, but the book itself is tranquil - dreamy, even - rooting for its employee-store romance from the bottom of its synthetic heart." - Katy Waldman, New Yorker "Murata draws a poignant portrait of what happens when a woman's oppression meets a man's grievance - and one of them has to give . . . It seems all too fitting that Murata's disaffected man, Shiraha, lashes out at a cold world with demands and reproach, while the female narrator quietly seeks out a space within that unwelcoming world where she can contribute. To anyone living in the world today, in Japan or the U.S., it should come as little surprise that the sharpest consequences for a man's pain and a woman's pain both fall, in the end, on women." - Claire Fallon, Huffington Post "Brilliant, witty, and sweet in ways that recall Amelie and Shopgirl . Keiko, a Tokyo woman in her 30s, finds her calling as a checkout girl at a national convenience store chain called Smile Mart: Quirky Keiko, who has never fit in, can finally pretend to be a normal person. Her story of conforming for convenience (literally) is one that woman all over the world know all too well, as is her family's pressure to get married and settle down, but Murata's sparkly writing and knack for odd, beautiful details are totally her own." - Vogue "Reading Convenience Store Woman - a spare, quietly brilliant novel about an offbeat woman whose life revolves around the convenience store she works at - is like being lulled into a soft calm . . . Though she feels like the odd one out, it's her frank appraisal of the systems of the world that reveals the absurdity of everyone else. Whey has society at large agreed to live by these arbitrary rules? And why does everyone else treat Keiko's rejection of these rules like a threat?" - BuzzFeed "This magical little book performs this neat accordion track in sentences so clean and crisp it's like they were laminated and placed before you, one at a time, in a well-windex'd cooler. And thus Sayaka Murata has written the 7-11 Madame Bovary . . . This is a love story. Only the love affair here is between a woman and the convenience store in which she works." - John Freeman, Literary Hub "Sayaka Murata's novel Convenience Store Woman playfully illustrates the daily routines and ruminations of an eccentric Tokyo salesclerk." - Elle " Convenience Store Woman subverts the status quo with the lowliest of settings and the most unlikely warrior. Cunning and seductive . . . [it] joins the literature of refusal, along with Melville's 'Bartleby the Scrivener' (the clerk who 'prefers not to'), Beckett's minimal humans, who dwell in trash bins and sand heaps, and Kafka's hapless office workers, who try to remain invisible while being watched . . . Murata's comedy brilliantly reverses the notion that we lose ourselves as cogs in a machine. In anonymity, Keiko slips the knot of convention. For her, the rescue is in the catastrophe." - Laurie Stone, Women's Review of Books "Can a 36-year-old woman find happiness working at a 'Smile Mart' for the rest of her life? That's the sneakily subversive proposition floated in this sly little novel." - Newsday "Full of wisdom about our modern age . . . Murata's brief, whimsical, deeply insightful and pleasantly thought-provoking novel reminds us what torture social life can be for those too honest and authentic to be deluded by its trappings." - PopMatters "Murata's strange and quirky novel was a runaway hit in Japan, and Ginny Tapley Takemori's English translation introduces it to a new group of readers - a slim, entrancing read that can be consumed in one sitting." - Passport "An achievement . . . Murata's just-below-the-surface acerbity is most skillfully deployed in examining how what we do distorts what we are . . . The result is more than just brief, breezy, and pithy - it is a look at how extraordinarily frightening ordinary is turning out to be." - Arts Fuse "Unlike the youthfully airy heroines in the novels of writer Banana Yoshimoto, Keiko is almost a Kafkaesque character, deadly earnest in absurd circumstances . . . Murata shines in describing the setting - the 'pristine aquarium' - that is Keiko's sole link to existence. In smooth, lucid prose, the convenience store comes to life in its inner workings and sounds, from the tinkle of the door chime to the beeps of the bar code scanner and the rattle of bottles in the refrigerator." - Japan Times "A sweet, charming, and insightful book about comfort zones and the pressure to conform." - HelloGiggles "The character of Furukura is a delight. She is original and charming but never gimmicky or twee . . . Too accomplished to boil down to a single message, but this seems to be one idea that runs through it. People say a lot of things - some true, some misguided, some calculating and cruel. This is an unavoidable part of living in a society. The challenge is to listen past those voices and balance their demands with whatever higher calling we hear beyond." - Nippon.com "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." - Publishers Weekly (starred review) "The prestigious Akutagawa Prize-winning Murata, herself a part-time 'convenience store woman,' makes a dazzling English-language debut in a crisp translation by Ginny Tapley Takemori rich in scathingly entertaining observations on identity, perspective, and the suffocating hypocrisy of 'normal' society." - Booklist (starred review) "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 . . . Murata skillfully navigates the line between the book's wry and weighty concerns and ensures readers will never conceive of the 'pristine aquarium' of a convenience store in quite the same way. A unique and unexpectedly revealing English language debut." - Kirkus Reviews "Murata's writing, nicely rendered by Takemori's translation, uses the characters of Keiko and Shiraha to deliver a thought-provoking commentary on the meaning of conforming to the expectations of society. While Murata's novel focuses on life in Japanese culture, her storytelling will resonate with all people and experiences." - Library Journal " Convenience Store Woman is a gem of a book. Quirky, deadpan, poignant, and quietly profound, it is a gift to anyone who has ever felt at odds with the world - and if we were truly being honest, I suspect that would be most of us." - Ruth Ozeki, author of A Tale for the Time Being "What a weird and wonderful and deeply satisfying book this is. Sayaka Murata is an utterly unique and revolutionary voice. I tore through Convenience Store Woman with great delight." - Jami Attenberg, New York Times bestselling author of The Middlesteins and All Grown Up "A darkly comic, deeply unsettling examination of contemporary life, of alienation, of capitalism, of identity, of conformity. We've all been to this convenience store, whether it's in Japan or somewhere else." - Viet Thanh Nguyen, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Sympathizer "This is a story about what's normal and not, a drama played on a stage so violently plain it becomes as vivid and surprising as an alien planet. I loved Convenience Store Woman : its brevity, its details, its opinions about life." - Robin Sloan, author of Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore "I picked up this novel on a trip to Japan and couldn't put it down. A haunting, dark, and often hilarious take on society's expectations of the single woman. As an extra bonus, it totally transformed my experience of going to convenience stores in Tokyo." - Elif Batuman, author of The Idiot " Convenience Store Woman is a mighty fine book, completely charming. Sayaka Murata is a wonderful writer." - Rabih Alameddine, author of An Unnecessary Woman "Instructions: Open book. Consume contents. Feel charmed, disturbed, and weirdly in love. Do not discard." - Jade Chang, author of The Wangs Vs. the World "Murata creates an original and surreal world in the most unlikely places. Furukura, the convenience store woman, is a strange, complex, gripping protagonist who inadvertently propels her own story forth through a series of subtle actions yet it is through these actions and also the spareness of the author's prose that we see what a master Murata truly is. This book is not only readable, it is fun, thought provoking and at times outrageous and outrageously funny. It is sure to be a standout of the year." - Weike Wang, author of Chemistry "This novel made me laugh. It was the first time for me to laugh in this way: it was absurd, comical, cute . . . audacious, and precise. It was overwhelming." - Hiromi Kawakami, author of The Nakano Thrift Shop "Witty, wily, and astonishingly sharp, Convenience Store Woman proves that the deepest gouges can come from the lightest touch." - Lisa McInerney, author of The Glorious Heresies " Convenience Store Woman is snarky and tender. It shows a woman trying to puzzle out how to be normal. This brilliant book will resonate with all of us who find life a little strange." - Rowan Hisayo Buchanan, author of Harmless Like You "I think the riskiest kind of novel is the one that tries to rescue us from mundane existence - by taking a closer look at mundane existence . . . In this context, it is easy to say that Murata-san's novel is a major breakthrough. Convenience Store Woman is not an explosion of candor, but it manages to both be cool to the touch and have depths of warmth in presenting to us a heroine who feels at a remove from the world around her. This is a fine high wire act to walk. One of the finest I have seen in a long time from so young a writer." - John Freeman, Literary Hub "A hilarious novel . . . Convenience Store Woman mocks the culture of work, the employee's devotion to their patron saint, and pokes fun at the conservative mindset. For what is a young woman worth if she has neither professional ambition nor a desire to get married?" - Marie-France (France) "A portrait of the challenge of being different in an ultra-policed society that ostracizes anyone who deviates even slightly from the norm . . . a bittersweet satire." - Livres-Hebro (France) "A love story pulled out of the deep-freeze shelves of the heart . . . brilliant . . . not a word too many, nor one too few . . . true love is the simple and beautiful moral of this unusual yet uplifting story." - Die Zeit (Germany) "This work merely describes the tiny world of a small box - a convenience store . . . yet it packs all the appeal of a [long] novel. In all my ten-plus years on the panel of judges, this is the first time one of the shortlisted works has had me laughing. And somehow that laugh was charged with a profound sense of irony. Bravo Murata-san!" - Amy Yamada "I was really amazed by Convenience Store Woman and the particular reality it exquisitely portrays . . . [It] minutely translates the sadness, anguish, grief, grumbles, fateful actions etc. of someone who is incapable of uttering the right words, adding layers of details and spinning them into a story . . . I am sincerely delighted that such a novel has come into being." - Ryu Murakami "Choosing to give your novel a narrator who is not normal, someone who is aware that there is something strange about herself, is not an easy choice. Flaunting strangeness as a privilege sometimes repels the reader. But Convenience Store Woman skilfully evades this reaction. When the protagonist, a social outcast, is placed within the box of the artificially normalized convenience store, we begin to vividly see the strangeness of the people in the world outside." - Yoko Ogawa"