I recently read The Travelling Cat Chronicles by Hiro Arikawa and loved it, and I picked Convenience Store Woman on a whim hoping it will continue that streak. Let us get on with the review to know if it did, shall we?
About the book
Book Name: Convenience Store Woman
Author: Sayaka Murata, Ginny Tapley Takemori (Translator)
Genre: Fiction – Drama
Characters: Keiko Furukura, Shiraha
Keiko Furukura, a 36 year old convenience store worker, doesn’t fit into the social constructs. She doesn’t have a husband or a boyfriend, kids nor a well paying job – in short an outcast.
Keiko has been working at the same convenience store for eighteen years and has a routine that works for her. She has no interest in trying to fit in to the society but conveniently masks her oddities. She goes even to the extent of faking an illness which makes her too weak to work anywhere else.
Her peaceful life goes into a toss when she meets another part time worker, Shiraha who is an outcast as well. They share a lot of commonalities, and they even get into a relationship charade to shut the voices of the society.
How did that turn out? You will have to read Convenience Store Woman to know more.
My initial thoughts
I love reading character driven books and Convenience Store Woman does a great work at that. Keiko is a strong character who accepts and has no problem being the odd duck. She survives the pressure on woman to marry and birth a child at the right age without openly rebelling against the system. She is on the brink of a break down and yet manages to get through the motions of life. I adore the odd duck she was.
Convenience Store Woman is a melancholic, relatable and yet so surreal. It is quintessentially Japanese and is a great choice to read if you want to know more about the country’s culture and society.
I liked reading about the operations of a convenience store and the role it plays in helping Keiko to mimic other humans. Maybe she is on the spectrum but the author never explicitly discusses that. I am glad I found Convenience Store Woman among the hundreds of recommendations on bookstagram.
Things that worked for me
- Convenience Store Woman gives a great commentary on the culture and society of Japan.
- The characters are etched to perfection. I could relate to them so deeply that it scares me.
- I loved the poignant undertone all through the book.
Things that didn’t work for me
Even though the book is comical in bits, but I saw many reviews saying this book was hysterical or funny. It wasn’t. Amusing maybe. Funny – no!
If you love character driven books and translated works, Convenience Store Woman is a great choice. If you liked books like Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine and The Curious Incident of the Dog In The Night-Time, this is for you!
Similar books that you might like
- Before the Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi
- Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata
- The Travelling Cat Chronicles by Hiro Arikawa
- Flyaway Friday: Books Set In Japan
- Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto
Let us chat
Do you read translated works? What was the last translated book that you read? What is your favorite and I am calling for more recommendations. Let us talk.