Title: Convenience Store Woman
Author: Sayaka Murata
Translator: Ginny Tapley Takemori
Publisher: Portobello Books
Keiko has never really fitted in. At school and university people find her odd and her family worries she’ll never be normal. To appease them, keiko takes a job at a newly opened convenience store.
Here, she finds peace and purpose in the simple, daily tasks and routine interactions. She is, she comes to understand, happiest as a convenience store worker.
But in keiko’s social circle it just won’t do for an unmarried woman to spend all her time stacking shelves and re-ordering green tea. As pressure mounts on keiko to find either a new job or worse, a husband, she is forced to take desperate action.
To put it in one sentence, Convenience Store Woman is gem of a book. I mean how the author conveys something so important in such a short length is really admirable. It is a book about those who don’t fit into any of the few frames carved by the society. It shows what it means to be different from what is normally acceptable and how societal pressure & this constant demand of being normal can lead to an individual’s destruction.
The book has in its centre the protagonist, Keiko’s struggle of retaining her identity. It portrays the journey of Keiko’s acceptance of her identity and the path that she then takes up. The book is written in such a beautiful & compelling manner that the reader feels as much a part of Keiko’s life as Keiko herself.
By the time this book came to me, I had already read several raving reviews of it. I was quite excited and I’m glad to say that I fared well. To be honest, I feel that it is a bit hyped. The writing is certainly very powerful but the core idea conveyed in the book isn’t something unique. It is something that we all appreciate. The achievement of the book lies in the masterful handling of this idea and its projection in the story.
It is a really short read that can be easily read in a single sitting. Keiko is definitely going to stay with me for a long time. Also I realized that I enjoy Japanese literature a lot. So I’m looking forward to read more of Japanese authors. As far as this book is concerned, I highly recommend it.
My Rating: **** (4.25/5)
What do you think about this book? Who are your favourite Japanese authors? Do share your thoughts. Thanks.
*I was kindly sent a copy by the publisher. Views expressed are entirely personal & unbiased.*