Convenience Store Woman

Convenience Store Woman

Book - 2018
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r
ranXerox
Mar 11, 2021

Delightfully weird, a little morbid and brutally frank. I like honest women.
The protagonist is honest.

r
redtayres
Feb 21, 2021

As one cover blurb well describes the book, "irresistibly quirky". This slim novella was translated from Japanese into English and whoever did it was masterful. The words perfectly capture the tone and weight of both the main character and her surroundings. And about that main character? Well, read the other comments (or better yet, the book!). All I can add is that she seems a nice, sweet person who I think I'd enjoy knowing in real life. Convenience Store Woman is a very satisfying, strangely and thoroughly engaging contemporary story.

Tigard_AnnmarieA Feb 10, 2021

This was a very good and quirky read, funny and satirical, a short novel by Japanese author Murata that looks at what fitting into Japanese society - or really any society - is like, and what it costs the participant. Highly recommended.

Hillsboro_JeanineM Jan 28, 2021

Keiko Furukura, the protagonist, has been described as idiosyncratic and an oddball. She conforms to expectations and societal norms by mimicking speech and behavior but does not understand it. She is happy being a cog in the machine of the Convenience Store. The structure suits her but friends and family frown on her unmarried life and her long career as a part-time worker. To please others, she decides to try to make the leap to a partnered status and a "real" job.

r
rclane
Jan 18, 2021

Quick and easy, like convenience store food.

JCLFlanneryC Nov 23, 2020

I loved this book! 36 year old Keiko Furukura lives alone and works at a convenience store. She's content but, under enormous social pressure, caves and invites a miserable leech into her life as a boarder and pretend boyfriend, much to the delight of her friends and family. This book is better than "quirky" and it's nothing like Amelie (?), I think it's a good and critical examination of our obsessions with career and family as measurements of a life well lived. Especially for millennials pressured into college educations, saddled by debt, stressed about the future and denied the same securities that allowed their parents' generation to build wealth, there's at least a kernel of truth to Keiko's "wacky" way of life. :)

JCLSarahZ Oct 28, 2020

36 year old Keiko Furukura gets her self-identity from none of the usual places; sister, friend, mother, wife, etc. Instead, she draws all of her identity from her job as a part-time convenience store worker. In this delightfully weird short story we are given a glimpse into Keiko's thoughts and ambitions. Right about when things start to get mundane, the narrative unexpectedly turns from bizarre story to clever commentary on societal norms. This is a quick and quirky must read.

k
kellypeng96
Sep 11, 2020

Super quick and interesting read! I think it explores some of the nuance in capitalism and the "ideal" work+family. Got really invested in the main character from the getgo and found myself really rooting for her! Also prompted me to think about what exactly we're hoping to get out of these lives we live and what it means to be human and part of society.

s
saramarie
Aug 07, 2020

interesting & almost confusing at times. an authentic take on the extent that women are alienated from society & what is expected of them. a light read & a wild ride. better than catcher in the rye in my opinion.

e
erfinn37
Jan 07, 2020

This book was almost too bland for me personally. But maybe it needed to be mundane to get the point across. Not every book needs to be overly exciting to encourage thought.

d
dirtbag
Nov 08, 2019

The main character is extremely odd but you can't help but cheer for her. The book has to do with Japan's aging demographic and the expectations of the young that result, but it could just as well be talking about Canada and the US. I wasn't going to say anything about her mental health but I realized that I am annoyed that people who have NO training in mental health have labelled her autistic (or worse in StarGladiator's case). That judgement is exactly what this book is about. She is not normal, so the people that think that they are, feel entitled to lay a judgement on her. I think this book is about self-acceptance and being proud of who you are! More power to her, since the book is at least semi-biographical. Oh, and why do people think you have to be sixteen or older to read this book? Do they think it is corrupting?

m
MikeEe
Oct 12, 2019

Keiko-san is a fish out of water, but she knows it. Even better, she understands the workings of those more socially attuned around her, and so, to function, she perfectly inhabits the world of the konbini (コンビニ), where she is the top employee. That is until she takes in a misogynist, the complete loser, Shiraha (first, I accidentally typed Shitaha - how appropriate), and he begins to consume and ruin her life. Will Keiko-san realize her mistake in time and find her way back to her former happy life, or will this end like a Rohinton Mistry novel where somebody ends up throwing themselves in front of a commuter train? You’ll have to read the book to find out.

Bonus - masterful translation - it reads as if it were originally written in English with a great understanding of Japanese sensibility.

The bio says that the author, Sayaka Murata, works part-time at a コンビニ. I want to shop at Murata-san’s コンビニ. It will be the uber-コンビニ!

s
StarGladiator
Oct 11, 2019

Quirky? Definitely, and reads like Voltaire's Candide for sociopaths.
Also could be titled: A Case Study of the Submersive Sociopathic Personality for Survival Purposes.
During my life I've come into contact with at least three serial killers and four mass murderers - - only aware of this after the fact, of course. One I met at an ultra-flakey company I remained at for all of three days before bailing out - - he was a clean-cut appearing young fellow, but he exhibited that off-kilter behavior: a measured response to every question, no matter how ordinary or mundane.
Thankfully, he was exterminated -- or executed -- but prior to his execution he gave a chilling interview. The interviewer was probing for a traumatic event in his childhood to explain his demonic actions, but Wesley Allen Dodd was quite candid and honest, stating that he had enjoyed a normal and nice childhood and upbringing, he simply derived pleasure from perpetrating the most evil crimes imaginable!
[I cannot believe other commenters did not pick up on the sociopathology of the main character?! Quite perplexing . . .]

h
hihijenny
Sep 23, 2019

It's a very fast read. Just 163 pages. It's an interesting concept where it peeks into the world of older individuals that struggle with social norms. It's a cute story with Japanese customs and flare that makes us Westerners think more about what our social norms are for marriage, careers, etc. Conclusion is a bit abrupt but over all a nice book to read. Great for commuting to work.

j
jmithen
Sep 16, 2019

weird. fast read. asian storekeeper. sort of entertaining. not sure why she let that guy keep living with her.

s
SidheWrites
Aug 22, 2019

This is a really odd, quirky book and the perfect read for square pegs who have no interest in fitting in. Doing what you think you should because society dictates what is considered normal, only to discover that "normal" isn't going to work for you. That while people may not understand how your odd existence could possibly make you happy, you are happy all the same. That just because you don't strive for the stereotypical doesn't mean you haven't succeeded.

I found myself slipping into the comfort of her daily life, only to feel extremely uncomfortable when it all suddenly changes, and then cheering when everything suddenly becomes clear.

RandomLibrarian Aug 09, 2019

"Quirky" is the most common description of this book, and I agree. It harkens back to the "Bananamania" in Japan in the early 90s when author Banana Yoshimoto released her debut novel, "Kitchen". I also think Keiko might be on the autism spectrum, as she struggles with understanding casual social interaction, appropriate responses on her part, and interpreting others' expressions and emotions.

What I appreciate most about this is that Keiko is happy with her life as it is; in a world that tells you that you must constantly strive for a romantic partner to be complete and find a 'better' job, more money, and obtain a resultingly higher social status to be 'worthy', Keiko is a reminder that we should stay true to ourselves. When we find our niche, the thing we are good at and enjoy, we can take pride and derive satisfaction from doing a good job.

All in all, this book was a thoroughly enjoyable slice-of-life story. It also made me wish that convenience stores in the US were like the ones in Japan.

SCL_Heather Jul 25, 2019

This was a short and quirky book but it charmed me. It is also an interesting commentary on the nature of what it means to fit in and how badly humans want other people to be like us, make the smae lifes choices we make and value the same things we value in order for us to judge them valuable and worthy. I am so glad that in the end, Keiko follows her heart.

s
sailorholladay22
Jun 22, 2019

This was an interesting book about how it can be impossible to separate our identities from our work selves. I listened to the audio version, which added to the experience. I recommend reading this if you struggle with work or knowing what you want to do with your life.

g
genepy
Jun 07, 2019

This philosophical tale has profoundly changed my perception of humanity
and my own identity. I did not expect experiencing such a moment of truth
reading about materialistic Japanese culture. I highly recommend it.

b
brangwinn
May 19, 2019

I loved this book, although I wanted to shake the main character and tell her to go out and explore and live a little. But then she lives in Japan, where individuality isn’t seen as an asset. I’m guessing she has some form of Asperger’s. She looks for guidance in navigating the social norms from her sister and she has found a job in a convenience store than suits her. I loved the “behind the scenes” look at what working in a Japanese store is like. Keiko is the kind of character who you worry about long after finishing the book, and this was a quick book to read.

i
Indoorcamping
May 11, 2019

This reminds me of "Slaves of New York" by Tama Janowitz in that this book is also a compelling, character-based quick read, quirkily-written and ultimately a simple sort of story that you can guess where it's going before it gets there. The character is original and special, in many layers, and that's what keeps you reading. You don't often get to give your consciousness over to a character this different and unlovely and, well, repellant. Yet you have to see where she takes you, even if you know by page 10 that this plot is going to end in an uneventful climax, likely having to do with accepting and owning the role of being a Convenience Store Woman, since that is the name of the book.

Culturally, this book paints a full picture of why being a convenience store woman in Japan is looked down upon, and some of that would apply anywhere. When someone doesn't try, doesn't seem to want to do better, wants to settle into what's comfortable and yet seems like they have so much more potential than a menial job, it's natural to feel at odds with that decision. This goes inside the head of such a person and shows that maybe the uncomfortable feeling is yours alone. Living your best life is living your life and taking responsibility for your decisions. Other people can give advice, judge, admonish, look down, disrespect, but they aren't living the consequences. By the end of this book, you understand what it must be like to live a life you enjoy that really pisses off everyone in your life.

Huh. I got more out of this little book than I originally thought. Maybe it's worth five stars after all.

s
spantell
May 02, 2019

An interesting book, written in a unique way, almost a parable. It is about pressures to conform, and I think it applies just as well to American culture, though the details are a bit different. I think that giving the character a label like autism spectrum really misses the point because labeling anyone who is different and making them feel that there is something wrong with them is exactly the problem the book addresses.

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lukasevansherman
Apr 26, 2019

A very strange, very original little book from Japan. I loved it! Maybe if Kafka were a Japanese woman living in the 21st century and working in a convenience store, he'd write something like this. The author actually does work part-time in a convenience store. One of 2018's most "buzzed" about books.

w
wen5302
Apr 10, 2019

If you’ve ever felt judged by society and what your friends, family, coworkers, and even complete strangers think you should do with your life, this slim little novel is a great read. The novel takes place in Japan and is told by Keiko, a woman who has been content with the predictable, part time work she’s performed as a convenience store woman for the past 18 years. Everyone seems to feel she should be doing something more with herself, assuming she must be unhappy or unfulfilled. The main character interprets her world literally, in a manner similar to autism. This results in a narrative style that’s both deadpan and funny, reminding me a little of Don Tillman from the Rosie novels. The novel doesn’t have a lot of action, which suited me just fine—I loved being immersed in the everyday world of Japanese convenience stores, and appreciated the amusing reflections on society’s assumptions of happiness. The narrative is simple, well-constructed, and laced with awkward laugh out loud moments that kept me reading to see what would happen next (what is the deal with the bathtub???) Overall, a quick, relatable, and interesting read; many thanks to David, the awesome librarian who recommended this one.


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