Sayaka Murata's novel tells the story of a woman finding her place in the world and learning to navigate the pressures and expectations of society, but unlike most novels that tell this kind of story, this one is from the perspective of someone with little comprehension of how human emotions work. Murata uses her protagonist's unique perspective to hold a mirror up to ourselves, revealing the complicated relationship we have with our own rules and the people who do and don't follow them. She displays a tremendous amount of empathy for Keiko, a character utterly incapable of feeling any herself. You'll see yourself on both sides of Keiko's experience, which is just one of the novel's impressive feats. Definitely check it out. For fans of The Incendiaries or Heads of the Colored People. — From Joseph's picks
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
Winter 2019 Reading Group Indie Next List
“Rebels tend to be outlandish, extroverted, opinionated, and brassy. Thirty-six-year-old Tokyo resident Keiko Furukura, working half her life in a convenience store, defies expectations, spurns relationships, irritates her family, ignores social pressures, and inadvertently—and joyously—flips rebellion on its head.”
— Mike Hare, Northshire Bookstore, Manchester Center, VT
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 the author of many books, including Convenience Store Woman, winner of Japan's most prestigious literary award, the Akutagawa Prize. She used to work part-time in a convenience store, which inspired this novel. Murata has been 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.