Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata, translated from Japanese by Ginny Tapley Takemori, is like nothing I’ve read before. This is a short, easy read that challenges everything you think about society, education, identity, and what it means to be happy and successful.
Keiko Furukura, now approaching middle age, has worked in a convenience store since she was eighteen. She loves her job, and finds value in the work she does every day. Everyone else tells Keiko that she’s wrong to feel this way, and that this makes her not normal. They tell her she can’t be truly happy unless she has a full time job, a husband, and kids. When a lazy ex-employee, Shiraha, moves in with her and people assume they’re dating, Keiko’s happy little world is turned upside down.
This book is crazy. Keiko is a unique character and she’s so happy and innocent that it’s heartbreaking. She has adapted to mimicking the speech patterns and behaviors of others based on what she’s been told is “normal”. I’ve heard other people speculate that Keiko is psychotic—I don’t think that’s the case, and I have no need to diagnose her. I think this book is really about society’s expectations surrounding identity and success.
I gave Convenience Store a three and a half book rating because I thought it was too short and ended too early. However, I think this unique story is something I’ll think about for a long time.
VERDICT: 3.5 books