Omg – Wow! I really didn’t expect much from this book, but half way through I found myself entranced by the story as well as by the first person narrator, Keiko Furukura. When the book first came out it sat on my wish list for several months before I finally gave up on having time and chucked it out. Just lately it turned up in the “Free with Membership” (Premium Plus) part of the Audible site. Okay – I put it in my this time and it sat there for another several days.
Convenience Store Woman
by Sayaka Murata
*Translated from the Japanese by Ginny Tapley Takemori *
2018 – 176 pages (hc)
Read by Nancy Wu 3h 22m
Rating: 9.25 / contemporary Japanese
Today, having finished House Arrest by Mike Lawson, (I need to read more of his books) I finally picked out Convenience Store Woman and started listening. I was enchanted, enmeshed. I don’t know why that didn’t happen with the sample but … right timing is important.
When I got about 1/2 way I started looking for the info about the book, translator and pages and stuff like that. Omg, I knew it was short but I didn’t know it had so many rave reviews until I looked at the Amazon site for it (not reading the reviews just seeing them there). Wow! It’s validating when you find that a book you’re really appreciating gets rave reviews from so many professionals – Google it yourself. 🙂
Anyway, there’s a 1st person, Keiko Furukura, telling the story of her life. She was born to average parents in Japan, but it seems she had some problems and people thought her a bit strange. She sometimes didn’t understand what people meant when they spoke, so when her playmates screamed “Stop it!” to a boy who was harassing them, she bonked him on the head with a spade – and that stopped him. In school she did a couple of similarly unacceptable things, but then she really tried to fit in. After she finished high school she found a part time job at a brand new convenience store – (think 7/11) and a very small place to live on her own.
The main thing about Keiko is that she loves her job and the convenience store itself. The story unfolds and Keiko develops and has problems. It seems the world, and Japanese families in particular, have expectations of people and Keiko isn’t living up to them at all. (But this is NOT The Vegetarian by Han Kang!)
This book is so much fun – different and refreshing. The book isn’t exactly up-beat, but it’s warm and friendly and as such makes an excellent break from the current negative left-overs of life in 2020. It does turn serious after awhile, there is a theme which unfolds and a message of sorts. At only 176 pages or 3+ hours you can easily do this in a day.
I loved this book too Bekah … and so did my reading group. It’s a great one to think about and discuss. I love Japanese literature, and the way it focuses so often on outsiders which is probably an issue that you’d expect would occupy artists, who tend to be individuals, in such an homogenous society .
Exactly, Sue. I also enjoy Japanese lit and was delighted to find an author new to me – now to peruse her oeuvre. – if I can find time.
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