Review: Convenience Store Woman

Hi and welcome to the reading world!

Today I’m going to be sharing a review of a contemporary fiction novel translated from Japanese and receiving international acclaim, Convenience Store Woman.

Review: Convenience Store WomanConvenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata
Published by Grove Press on June 12, 2018
Genres: Fiction / City Life, Fiction / Cultural Heritage, Fiction / Literary
Pages: 176

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. Managers come and go, but Keiko stays at the store for eighteen years. It’s almost hard to tell where the store ends and she begins. 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 an unusual psyche and a world hidden from view, Convenience Store Woman is an ironic and sharp-eyed look at contemporary work culture and the pressures to conform, as well as a charming and completely fresh portrait of an unforgettable heroine.

Convenience Store Woman is a novel that follows a Keiko Furukura. She is 36 and works at a convenience store, which is central to her life and a source of fulfillment for her. However, as she continues to age, social pressures from coworkers, friends, family, and society at large. The way these dynamics impact Keiko Furukura and she in turn responds unfold across the course of the novel.

This is a short but thought provoking read. It explores themes of identity, fulfillment, balancing the expectations of others with individual dreams, and happiness.

I’m going to avoid saying too much on the storyline itself but this is a very character centered and character driven novel. In many ways, it oftentimes felt to me like a character study of the protagonist juxtaposed with snapshots of the lives of others. While there is a definite plot that unfolds, this story is shaped by interactions, expectations, and Keiko Furukura.

Overall, I recommend reading this one if you want a brief but reflective read. This book is one that I definitely want to revisit in the future because it’s thought provoking and unique.

If you like short, introspective reads that use the plot of the novel to explore characterization check this one out!

Have you read this one? What’s a translated work of fiction you’ve read and loved lately? Feel free to let me know in the comments!

Thanks for stopping by!


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