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
Setting: Tokyo, Japan
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
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.
Dani from Perspective of a Writer gave us a prompt to discuss my Favorite Stephen King Character for the week. As most of you all might guessed that it is for the love of the King of horror that I jumped on to post for this meme. Let us get on to this shall we?
While it may not be the most popular of Stephen King’s novels, Rose Madder will always hold a special place in my mind. My relationship with Stephen King has not always been smooth and it was Rose Madder that made all the difference. So it might not come as a surprise that I would choose someone from it as a character I love…. to hate.
Yes you heard it right.
I choose a character that I completely hate yet I can’t ever push to some dark corner of my mind and forget about or move on from. Intrigued? Let us talk about Norman Daniels.
Who is Norman Daniels?
Norman Daniels is the antagonist of Rose Madder. Norman Daniels was a police officer in Aubreyville and married to Rose McClendon. The story majorly deals with how Rose escapes the clutches of the masochist and malevolent Norman, making Norman play a predominant role.
What makes Norman Daniels such a remarkable fictitious character?
Norman is sexually, physically and emotionally abusive towards his wife Rosie. He beats Rosie for reading a trashy book (brace yourself, Misery’s journey) so much that causes her miscarriage. Being a cop and having cop friends makes it easier for him to get away with it.
Rose doesn’t even dare to get away from him because she knows he will find her, for about nine more years. And even when she finally runs away, he finds her as she suspected.
He is racist, homophobic and also sexist
Norman Daniels is a crude redneck that hates more than half the population, quite literally. He hates everyone almost equally, be it women, gays, African Americans and the Jews. He bites homosexual men to death. He doesn’t think twice about killing a witness.
He is the sickest of fictional human monsters – ever
Norman Daniels makes the other Norman, from the Psycho and the Bates Motel look nice.
His favorite method of punishing men is to pop their testicles and/or bite them. He has already raped and murdered a witness and continues to punch, kick, bite and murder women and men alike as he stalks his runaway wife without remorse.
I can bet that one cannot read the opening scene of Rose Madder, that entails the scene of his beating, her miscarriage and him getting away with it, without wincing. I had to put my book down more than once to get over it.
He has no redeeming qualities whatsoever. He is one of the truest monsters not just of Stephen King’s creation but also in any book I have ever read /heard of.
He literally turns into an animal
As if this is not evil enough, he turns into a minotaur by the end of the book.
His rage and his obsession literally and figuratively changed him into a raging bull whn he finds out Rose ‘s location and that she is dating another man. He also realizes that she is supported by her lesbian friends at the women’s shelter. He murders them and rushes to Rose’s apartment where he almost kills Bill, Rose’s date.
If Norman Daniels was the worst ever, why and how did he become my favorite character?
Norman Daniels controlled the entire story
As one would expect of a Stephen King’s book, Rose Madder has its supernatural elements. While things are not picture perfect (pun intended) and the supernatural part was okayish at the best, at least for me, it was Norman that made the entire book strong.
Even when the macho Norman turns to a panic stricken human afraid for his life, I could not ignore him. The book would have worked so much better as a thriller/suspense about an abused woman and her crazy husband.
How many characters, in the entire Stephen King world of books, have had the power to make the book work even without the supernatural elements? None other than Norman Daniels, IMO.
And that to me, that is the mark of a character etched to perfection.
Who is your favorite character from Stephen King’s world? Do you have any antagonists that you cannot move on from? Have you read Rose Madder? Let us chat.