Convenience Store Woman (Hardcover)
This little, unassuming book is chock full of startling hilarity and thoughtful commentary about cultural and social expectations.
The narrator and protagonist, Keiko, feels perfectly fulfilled as a convenience store worker-- she is so good at her job, in fact, that she has basically become a part of the store itself. She doesn't understand social conventions and has learned to blend in by mimicking her coworkers. But lately, people keep bothering her: Why hasn't she pursued a more serious career by now? Does she have a boyfriend? Why isn't she married? She's going to have kids soon, right?
Keiko doesn't understand why these things are important, but tries to appease her prying family by taking in a deadbeat ex-coworker to pose as her (fake) boyfriend. But no matter how she tries to change, all Keiko truly wants is to be a perfect cog in the machine of the convenience store!— Kiwi
June 2018 Indie Next List
“Keiko Furukura has worked at her local convenience store for 18 years. Every day, she ensures that the shelves are tidy, the hot food bar is stocked, and the featured items are adequately displayed. She greets every customer with a cheerful ‘Irasshaimase!’ and no one notices that she’s never fit in anywhere else. Murata draws lush descriptions of the beauty of order and routine out of simple, spare prose, and every page crackles with the life she’s created. Because of the humor, the wit, the almost unbearable loveliness of it all, Convenience Store Woman, a small book about a quiet life, makes an enormous impact on the reader.”
— Lauren Peugh, Powell's Books, Portland, OR
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.
About the Author
Sayaka Murata is one of Japan's most exciting contemporary writers. She still works part time in a convenience store, which was the inspiration to write Convenience Store Woman, her English-language debut and winner of one of Japan's most prestigious literary prizes, the Akutagawa Prize. She was named a Freeman's "Future of New Writing" author, and her work has appeared in Granta and elsewhere. In 2016, Vogue Japan selected her as a Woman of the Year. Ginny Tapley Takemori has translated works by more than a dozen Japanese writers, including Ryū Murakami. She lives at the foot of a mountain in Eastern Japan.