Genres: Literary Fiction
Convenience Store Woman is the story of Miss Furukura, who has been working at the same convenience store for the past eighteen years. Her life has not changes since her twenties, and that is how she thrives: she knows what the store needs, the correct level of enthusiasm to greet costumers, and what to say when. But as she gets older, the pressure increases for her to get married, changes jobs or, preferably, both. When she meets a man at the store looking for a wife so he can comply to societal norms, she sees in him the perfect convenient relationship to also get friends and family to accept her. But this bitter, small-minded man will create chaos in her perfectly orderly life, and perhaps not for the best.
I really enjoyed this book! First of all, it’s surprisingly funny and emotional at the same time. Ms. Furukura is a strange character and not easy to relate to, but it doesn’t make her any less endearing. She is just so simple and perfectly content with who she is, whereas her family and friends cannot understand her at all.
“She’s far happier thinking her sister is normal, even if she has a lot of problems, than she is having an abnormal sister for whom everything is fine.”
This book is on the quieter side, and even the higher tensions on the second half don’t feel like they are too dramatic, but still it left a strong impression in me and I am sure I will be thinking about it for a long time. It is an interesting reflection on society, being accepted and what being happy vs normal is. I’ve read that it’s a criticism on the Japanese culture of ever trying to become more and more successful and work towards money, children, and more money. I absolutely see that, but perhaps because I am not Japanese, the aspect of Convenience Store Woman that stood out for me was its conversation about normality. I adored this little gem!
Also it’s a translated work, in case you’ve been trying to read more of those!
An interesting review on the book: The Japan Times: In ‘Convenience Store Woman’, Sayaka Murata questions normality in modern Japan