Review: Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata

Keiko Furukura is a little well ... odd. At school and university she had difficulty fitting in with her peers but eventually she found sanctuary in the most unlikely place, working at a convenience store. In this predictable, normalised environment, she feels safe

Eighteen years later, and she's still working there. Now aged thirty-six, she is single and has no interest in finding a husband or a better job. As far as her family and her friends (who all want to cure her,) are concerned, this just wont do. But when Keiko finally decides to take action, the results are darkly hilarious and reveal more than a few deeper truths about the place of women in contemporary Japanese society.

I thoroughly, thoroughly enjoyed this one. Anyone who has worked in any retail environment, particular in areas with a high turnover of staff, will be able to easily identify with the training and procedures that Keiko embraces, while having a little chuckle along the way. Keiko isn't a character who is begging for sympathy, rather she is one who is asking the reader for acceptance. Some of her accounts of her childhood are darkly hilarious, while her sham relationship with Shiraha broke my heart just a little. 

Often when books are translated into English, they lose a little something. This is not so with Convenience Store Woman, owing in part, I expect, the similarities between convenience stores in Japan with those in Australia. The strong feminist themes come across well--why is it that those in Keiko's circles are willing to accept her supposed engagement to a thoroughly horrible suitor, but they cannot accept that she is happy working in a convenience store? And while it is never suggested in the book that Keiko has autism (she may do, she may not do,) it also discusses something that is a reality for many women who are on the spectrum--that they will often have to lie about themselves and their interests so that they may fit in and be accepted by others.

This one is short, easy to read and entertaining.

Highly recommended.

This book was read as part of the #dymocks52 challenge


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