Praise for Convenience Store Woman
Shortlisted for the Best Translated Book Award
Longlisted for the Believer Book Award
A Los Angeles Times Bestseller
Named a Best Book of the Year by the New Yorker, BuzzFeed, Boston Globe, Literary Hub, Minneapolis Star Tribune, Electric Literature, Library Journal, Shelf Awareness, WBUR, Hudson, Bustle, Chatelaine, and Globe and Mail
An Indies Introduce Title
An Indie Next Pick
An Amazon Best Book of the Month (Literature and Fiction)
An Elle Magazine Best Summer Book Pick
One of Vogue's Books to Thrill, Entertain, and Sustain You This Summer
It may be taken for granted what we have in our ability to understand and connect with other people. Keiko Furukura doesn't want to be othered. She seeks a place and a purpose in the world like anybody else. The trouble arises from the fact that she can understand the what and the how of humanity, but she can't understand the why. She can exhibit tactfulness and social norms, but only as a means of blending in. Convenience Store Woman is a master class in alienation from humanity and society, telling a simple story reminiscent of books like No Longer Human. Keiko equates humanity with a set of roles, responsibilities, and expectations. Only through honed mimicry and explicit, unambiguous employee standards does she begin to grasp at what she sees as fitting in as a typical member of society. Her routine with her job provides her with a sense of security and validation. It's only when her lifestyle is put into question that she begins to consider the expectation of growth that friends, family, and coworkers have set for her. She feels the world around her waiting on her to progress. I could not stop reading this book. I read it all in one go. Keiko's interactions with other characters are engaging. Sometimes her unique, non-conforming perception makes for amazing immovable object vs. unstoppable force interactions. It's a pleasure to read if you're looking to read alienation without the typical intensity of alienation narratives. Recommended By Jun L., Powells.com
Keiko just wants to fit in. Willing to do, literally, anything to please the people around her, Keiko stops two boys from fighting by hitting one over the head with a spade. She soon finds herself a childhood pariah among her peers and elders alike. To redeem herself, as an adult, Keiko gets a job at Smile Mart — and quickly assimilates all of the rules, embraces the expectations, and finds her place in society.
Convenience Store Woman is a finely woven tale of literal and circumstantial expectations placed upon a person. Keiko has no aspirations but to please others, so when that fails, she sees no choice but to try harder.
The honesty inherent in Keiko’s struggle is all too familiar to many people. Truth is equally scary and liberating. Seen through her eyes, it is also quite confusing. This novel is a masterpiece of modern Japanese literature that resonates across cultures, cuts through the heart of cultural norms, and strips away the notion that we can please others without indicting ourselves. Recommended By John K., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
The surprise hit of the summer and winner of Japan's prestigious Akutagawa Prize, Convenience Store Woman is the incomparable story of Keiko Furukura, a thirty-six-year-old Tokyo resident who has been working at the Hiiromachi "Smile Mart" for the past eighteen years. Keiko has never fit in, neither in her family, nor in school, but in her convenience store, she is able to find peace and purpose with rules clearly delineated clearly by the store's manual, and copying her colleagues' dress, mannerisms, and speech. She plays the part of a "normal person" excellently — more or less. Keiko is very happy, but those close to her pressure her to find a husband and a proper career, prompting her to take desperate action.
A sharp-eyed look at contemporary work culture and the pressures we all feel to conform, Convenience Store Woman offers a brilliant depiction of a world hidden from view and a charming and fresh portrait of an unforgettable heroine.
"A riot of quirkiness and eccentricity, and the mood of the book, which shifts from droll humor to melancholy to gentle vulnerability, is unclassifiable — and just right." Kirkus
"I was really amazed by Convenience Store Woman and the particular reality it exquisitely portrays...[It] minutely translates the sadness, anguish, grief, grumbles, fateful actions etc. of someone who is incapable of uttering the right words, adding layers of details and spinning them into a story....I am sincerely delighted that such a novel has come into being." Ryū Murakami
"Convenience Store Woman is a gem of a book. Quirky, deadpan, poignant, and quietly profound, it is a gift to anyone who has ever felt at odds with the world — and if we were truly being honest, I suspect that would be most of us." Ruth Ozeki, author of A Tale for the Time Being
"It's the novel's cumulative, idiosyncratic poetry that lingers, attaining a weird, fluorescent kind of beauty all of its own....The book's title is more than perfect, for this, you soon realize, is a love story. Keiko's love story: the convenience is all hers." Guardian
"Casts a fluorescent spell....A thrifty and offbeat exploration of what we must each leave behind to participate in the world." New York Times
About the Author
Sayaka Murata is the author of many books, including Convenience Store Woman, winner of Japan's most prestigious literary award, the Akutagawa Prize. She used to work part-time in a convenience store, which inspired this novel. Murata has been named a Freeman's "Future of New Writing" author, and her work has appeared in Granta and elsewhere. In 2016, Vogue Japan selected her as a Woman of the Year.
Ginny Tapley Takemori has translated works by more than a dozen Japanese writers, including Ryū Murakami. She lives at the foot of a mountain in Eastern Japan.