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 a job in a convenience store while at the university, they are delighted. For her part, she finds a predictable world in the convenience store, 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 thirty-six, she is still in the same job, has never had a boyfriend, and has only a few friends. She feels comfortable in her life but is aware that she is not living up to society’s expectations, 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?
Sayaka Murata brilliantly captures the atmosphere of the familiar convenience store that is so much a part of life in Japan. With some laugh-out-loud moments prompted by the disconnect between Keiko’s thoughts and those of the people around her, she provides a sharp look at Japanese society and the pressure to conform, as well as penetrating insights into the female mind.
Convenience Store Woman is a fresh, charming portrait of an unforgettable heroine that recalls Banana Yoshimoto, Han Kang, and Amélie.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
If you love how a novel can let you see the world through the eyes of someone totally new, you’ll adore this intimate and insightful story. Keiko doesn’t really understand typical social cues. That's why she loves the prescribed interactions and rituals of her soothing job at a Tokyo convenience store—and why she’s worked there for 18 years. But at 36, it’s getting hard to resist the pressure from friends and family to get married or find a “real” career. So when the rude, sullen, toxic loner Shiraha begins working at the store, Keiko decides she might have the makings of a solution...or a complete disaster. Nancy Wu’s clinical but curious narration captures the protagonist’s anthropologist-like view on life, helping us understand Keiko’s ability to observe and mimic others while never really becoming be one of the crowd herself. This incisive and compassionate portrait of two outsiders will have you rethinking relationships, politeness, and even society itself.
Short but There’s A Lot
A thought provoking story about fitting in. Is it better to be odd and fine or fit in with many problems? I recommend this audiobook.
Simple deep story
It’s a good story of understanding oneself and standing against society’s rules.
Such a great oddity.
This was a quick listen for leisure time. It’s written eloquently and somehow grasps you. I wish it were longer.
It’s interesting to see a point of view of people who don’t fit the norm. It opened my eyes and I loved it.