Convenience Store Woman
The surprise hit of the summer and winner of Japan's prestigious Akutagawa Prize, Convenience Store Woman is the incomparable story of Keiko Furukura, a thirty-six-year-old Tokyo resident who has been working at the Hiiromachi "Smile Mart" for the past eighteen years. Keiko has never fit in, neither in her family, nor in school, but in her convenience store, she is able to find peace and purpose with rules clearly delineated clearly by the store's manual, and copying her colleagues' dress, mannerisms, and speech. She plays the part of a "normal person" excellently--more or less. Keiko is very happy, but those close to her pressure her to find a husband and a proper career, prompting her to take desperate action.
A sharp-eyed look at contemporary work culture and the pressures we all feel to conform, Convenience Store Woman offers a brilliant depiction of a world hidden from view and a charming and fresh portrait of an unforgettable heroine.
Shortlisted for the Best Translated Book Award
Longlisted for the Believer Book Award
A Los Angeles Times Bestseller
Named a Best Book of the Year by the New Yorker, BuzzFeed, Boston Globe, Literary Hub, Minneapolis Star Tribune, Electric Literature, Library Journal, Shelf Awareness, WBUR, Hudson, Bustle, Chatelaine, and Globe and Mail
An Indies Introduce Title
An Indie Next Pick
An Amazon Best Book of the Month (Literature and Fiction)
An Elle Magazine Best Summer Book Pick
One of Vogue's Books to Thrill, Entertain, and Sustain You This Summer
"In Sayaka Murata's Convenience Store Woman, a small, elegant and deadpan novel, a woman senses that society finds her strange, so she culls herself from the herd before anyone else can do it . . . Casts a fluorescent spell . . . A thrifty and offbeat exploration of what we must each leave behind to participate in the world."--Dwight Garner, New York Times
"Alienation gets deliciously perverse treatment in Convenience Store Woman . . . Murata herself spent years as a convenience store employee. And one pleasure of this book is her detailed portrait of how such a place actually works. Yet the book's true brilliance lies in Murata's way of subverting our expectations . . . With bracing good humor . . . Murata celebrate[s] the quiet heroism of women who accept the cost of being themselves."--John Powers, NPR "Fresh Air"
"The novel borrows from Gothic romance, in its pairing of the human and the alluringly, dangerously not. It is a love story, in other words, about a misfit and a store . . . Keiko's self-renunciations reveal the book to be a kind of grim post-capitalist reverie: she is an anti-Bartleby, abandoning any shred of identity outside of her work . . . It may make readers anxious, but the book itself is tranquil--dreamy, even--rooting for its employee-store romance from the bottom of its synthetic heart."--Katy Waldman, New Yorker
"Keiko, a defiantly oddball 36-year-old woman, has worked in a dead-end job as a convenience store cashier in Tokyo for half her life. She lives alone and has never been in a romantic relationship, or even had sex. And she is perfectly happy with all of it . . . Written in plain-spoken prose, the slim volume focuses on a character who in many ways personifies a demographic panic in Japan."--Motoko Rich, New York Times (profile)
"As intoxicating as a sake mojito, Sayaka Murata's Convenience Store Woman is a rare treat: a literary prize-winner that's also a page-turner. Its heroine, Keiko, is an 18-year-old Tokyo misfit who yearns to be like everyone else. Then she lands a job at Hiiromachi Station Smile Mart, one of those enchanting Japanese wonderlands that are equal parts 7-Eleven, McDonald's, and Starbucks. As Keiko finds liberation in the self-effacing rituals of being a good convenience store employee, Murata offers a smart, deliciously perverse look at everything from how mini-marts actually work to the rules, many of them invisible, that ultimately define our identity. And because the book is bracingly brief, you can down it in one afternoon gulp."--John Powers, Vogue
"It's the novel's cumulative, idiosyncratic poetry that lingers, attaining a weird, fluorescent kind of beauty all of its own. The world of the store with its dented cans and rice balls and barcodes and scanners, and Keiko's shivery, unashamedly sensual response as a 'convenience store animal' who can 'hear the store's voice telling me what it wanted, how it wanted to be.' The book's title is more than perfect, for this, you soon realize, is a love story. Keiko's love story: the convenience is all hers."--Julie Myerson, Guardian
"Murata draws a poignant portrait of what happens when a woman's oppression meets a man's grievance--and one of them has to give . . . It seems all too fitting that Murata's disaffected man, Shiraha, lashes out at a cold world with demands and reproach, while the female narrator quietly seeks out a space within that unwelcoming world where she can contribute. To anyone living in the world today, in Japan or the U.S., it should come as little surprise that the sharpest consequences for a man's pain and a woman's pain both fall, in the end, on women."--Claire Fallon, Huffington Post
"Brilliant, witty, and sweet in ways that recall Amélie and Shopgirl. Keiko, a Tokyo woman in her 30s, finds her calling as a checkout girl at a national convenience store chain called Smile Mart: Quirky Keiko, who has never fit in, can finally pretend to be a normal person. Her story of conforming for convenience (literally) is one that woman all over the world know all too well, as is her family's pressure to get married and settle down, but Murata's sparkly writing and knack for odd, beautiful details are totally her own."--Vogue, "13 Books to Thrill, Entertain, and Sustain You This Summer"
"An exhilaratingly weird and funny Japanese novel about a long-term convenience store employee. Unsettling and totally unpredictable--my copy is now heavily underlined."--Sally Rooney, Guardian
"A quiet masterpiece that offers a refreshing perspective on human nature through the disarming observations of a social misfit . . . Seldom has a narrator been so true to a lack of self, and so triumphantly other. This strange heroism may explain why the differences between Keiko Furukura and the reader gradually dwindle, and we come to perceive just how tenuous and unconsidered our own attitudes and constructs are, how curious our claims of personhood, and how odd and improbable our own story."--David Wright, Seattle Times
"Reading Convenience Store Woman--a spare, quietly brilliant novel about an offbeat woman whose life revolves around the convenience store she works at--is like being lulled into a soft calm . . . Though she feels like the odd one out, it's her frank appraisal of the systems of the world that reveals the absurdity of everyone else. Whey has society at large agreed to live by these arbitrary rules? And why does everyone else treat Keiko's rejection of these rules like a threat?"--BuzzFeed
"This magical little book performs this neat accordion track in sentences so clean and crisp it's like they were laminated and placed before you, one at a time, in a well-windex'd cooler. And thus Sayaka Murata has written the 7-11 Madame Bovary . . . This is a love story. Only the love affair here is between a woman and the convenience store in which she works."--John Freeman, Literary Hub
"Sayaka Murata's novel Convenience Store Woman playfully illustrates the daily routines and ruminations of an eccentric Tokyo salesclerk."--Elle
"A personal favorite . . . The prose is as crisp as is the aesthetic of [Japan]"--Lauren Christensen, CBS This Morning
"Knock-you-off-your-feet good, sucking you wholesale into the strange brain of its narrator, Keiko Furukura, and carrying you quickly through a smartly constructed plot . . . Reading Convenience Store Woman feels like being beamed down onto a foreign planet, which turns out to be your own . . . May we buy out bookstores' stocks of Convenience Store Woman, and yell Sayaka Murata's name from the rooftops."--Alison Tate Lewis, Electric Literature
"Sayaka Murata's brilliant Convenience Store Woman can be read as a meditation on the world of personal branding . . . It has been seen as a Gothic romance between a 'misfit and a store' and as a fictionalized account of how young people in Japan are increasingly giving up on sex, to name just two readings. It's a sign of excellent literature to be able to effortlessly hold up multiple interpretations at once. Murata's book is no exception: It's all of these things while also rendering an artful grotesque of modern personal branding."--The Millions
"Convenience Store Woman subverts the status quo with the lowliest of settings and the most unlikely warrior. Cunning and seductive . . . [it] joins the literature of refusal, along with Melville's 'Bartleby the Scrivener' (the clerk who 'prefers not to'), Beckett's minimal humans, who dwell in trash bins and sand heaps, and Kafka's hapless office workers, who try to remain invisible while being watched . . . Murata's comedy brilliantly reverses the notion that we lose ourselves as cogs in a machine. In anonymity, Keiko slips the knot of convention. For her, the rescue is in the catastrophe."--Laurie Stone, Women's Review of Books
"A novel that proves sylphlike; spare in its contents, with a masterfully deceptive comic veneer that keeps the reader turning the page. Even with peculiar and macabre elements aplenty . . . Murata has penned an unlikely feminist tale that unflinchingly depicts the social constructs of being a single woman."--Zyzzyva
"Can a 36-year-old woman find happiness working at a 'Smile Mart' for the rest of her life? That's the sneakily subversive proposition floated in this sly little novel."--Newsday
"Quirky, memorable . . . A neat and pleasing fable about the virtues and pleasures of conformity that could only be Japanese."--Times (UK)
"Engaging . . . A sure-fire hit of the summer."--Irish Times