Author: Sayaka Murata
Publisher: Portobello Books
Translation Details: translated from Japanese by Ginny Tapley Takemori
Publication Date: 2018
Genre: Contemporary Japanese Fiction
Page Count: 163
Convenience Store Woman is my second novella/ short read of 2019 but my first foray into contemporary Japanese fiction. After finishing this I really can’t wait to read more!
The book follows Keiko Furukura, a part time Convenience Store worker in her mid-thirties who is completely content with her life. However, nobody else can see that. Keiko always struggled to fit in and she has a completely unconventional attitude towards life. I found gaining an insight into her mind really refreshing. Keiko enjoys the structure and the rules imposed upon her by her job; in her work she finds a sense of belonging and purpose for the first time. Yet, her family and friends simply cannot understand why anyone would want to remain in what they perceive to be a ‘dead end job’. When Keiko meets a man with an equally unique outlook she decides to take action.
This book didn’t go in the direction I thought it was going to go in and for that I am so grateful! Although not very plot heavy, for a short novel it really brought to light some burning social issues and provides an interesting commentary on gender expectations in Japan. In a society that places a great deal of expectation upon women to get married and have children or have a high flying careers, Keiko obviously goes against the norm. Although Keiko has no problem with her situation she unfortunately is not immune from the criticism of others. Nearly everyone in her life absolutely cannot understand her satisfaction in life when she doesn’t have any of the things that society values so highly.
It says on the back that it is “laugh out loud funny” and there were some amusing scenes but I think the humour is more subtle than that. I think this book would be perfect for fans of Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine and fans of the ‘Up-Lit’ genre in general. It’s a very quick read and a great palate cleanser/ break from a current read.