Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata is one this summers most buzzed about books. At only 176 pages it’s a perfect read, and if you can’t get away this summer then, you’ll find yourself transported to Japan for a short while.
いらっしゃいませ! This phrase is a mantra for Keiko Furukura who has spent the past 18 years of her life working at a convenience store. She is a bizarre protagonist, she studies those around her and imitates them so that she can fit into society. And this is chiefly the basis of the story, Convenience Store Woman is a study of people that society deems different and how they are often marginalised or expected and even coerced into normalisation.
At the Convenience Store Keiko encounters perennial slacker Shiraha, like Keiko he is an outsider, but he is also her exact opposite, he has literally no purpose in life. For, Keiko working at the Convenience Store is her life, she doesn’t need anything else. However, she dabbles with the idea of partnering up with Shiraha as that is what is expected of her, and when she tells her friends that she is living with another man they are all ecstatic for her. However, Shiraha is an absolute jerk, he uses Keiko and babbles on pretentiously about how modern society is still exactly like “Stone Age” society. Having a character like Shiraha come into Keiko’s life is essentially a way for the author to help make Keiko realise that being normal is overrated, she unlike many others doesn’t need the traditional, get married and have kids lifestyle, her job is satisfaction enough, and it keeps her going and feeling like she has a purpose. And in life surely that is enough?
Overall, Convenience Store Woman is a fascinating read, it makes you realise how judgmental people are! And I found it to be quite a funny quirky little read with a good-hearted message, which is always nice to find in a book.
And as always, let me know in the comments section what you thought of Convenience Store Woman and while you’re here check out my other