Hi folks! Today I’m here with a review of an interesting and short read, which is the Convenience Store Woman written by Sayaka Murata in Japanese and translated into English by Ginny Tapley Takemori.
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 that 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?
This book is about Keiko Furukura, a woman who has been working part-time as a convenience store worker for eighteen long years. Keiko narrates the book and we get an insight into how her mind works. Keiko was quite strange as a child. She hit one of her classmates in the head with a crowbar to stop a fight occurring between the boy and some other kid, which injured the kid. In her mid-thirties, she is not like her peers, who are all married and some even have kids. Throughout the story, we see Keiko struggling to become a part of society. She even tries imitating her co-workers’ facial expressions and speech to fit in and be accepted by them. She doesn’t understand social cues and how to be considered “normal” by everyone. Her family, esp. her sister, wishes to “cure” her of her strange behavior.
However, Keiko knows the convenience store’s ways by heart and is the most efficient worker in the store. She doesn’t mind the fact that she hasn’t been promoted or that most of the other workers are way younger than her. One would think she would have been bored of working in the same place for such a long time, but that is far from the truth. Keiko sees herself as only a convenience store worker and misses the store when she is not working. The sounds of the convenience store often echo in her mind. And then comes Shiraha, another store worker who turns everything upside down and ruins Keiko’s peaceful life in the store.
I found Keiko to be highly intelligent and observant. She could analyze situations and the behavior of the people around her. I did find some of her thoughts alarming and dangerous. I could relate to her observations of society and its misogynistic ways. Shiraha, on the other hand, I just couldn’t stand him. He was hypocritical, selfish, and a liar. The story was not very exciting. While reading the book, I kept waiting for some significant event to take place that would make it captivating but I was quite disappointed. The story is quite tepid, although it is a short read and I wasn’t bored. This book mostly deals with reflection on our society and the way everyone treats people who are different than those considered “normal”.
Have you read the Convenience Store Woman? If yes, how did you find it? Let me know your thoughts below!