Sunday 30 August 2020

Book Review: Convenience Store Woman by Murata Sayaka (Contemporary Literature)

Title: Convenience Store Woman
Author: Murata Sayaka
Publisher: Granta Books
Publication Date: 2019 (2016)
Contemporary Fiction
Source: Borrowed from Library

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' style of dress and speech patterns so she can play the part 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'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's contented stasis—but will it be for the better?

Convenience Store Woman was a quick and easy read, but one packed with plenty to think on. While maintaining a light sense of humour, the book explored themes such as the role of the individual in society and the expectation of conformity to an accepted norm. Keiko is a wonderful character with whom I immediately felt a rapport, and I was rooting for her from start to finish. I put down the book at the end feeling uplifted by the decisions she made regarding her life, and I would certainly be keen to keep reading more works by Murata Sayaka, having now enjoyed both this one and Earthlings.

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