Thursday, 28 October 2021

Review: Convenience Store Woman

Convenience Store Woman Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata
My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Keiko Furukura is a not so young, unmarried, somewhere on the spectrum, virginal, convenience store woman that is she works in a small neighbourhood store Hiiromchi Station Smile Mart. Being in Japan her routine is full of morning practice when staff recite en mass greetings, “Irasshaimasé!" and other soundbites, being Keiko she reckons that watching and mimicking the store manager's video of the model store worker taught her "how to accomplish a normal facial expresiion and manner of speech", so for 35 years she has donned the same unniform and transformed into "the homogenous being known as a convenience store worker" and become a "normal cog in society". Except that she is not, she remains in the same job, remains unmarried, remains withut ever having a relationship until a new member of staff arrives, Shiraha. But this is not a girl meets boy, falls in love, and live happy ever after story. It is a story about being oneself, not what others expect you to be.

Sayaka Murata's story won the 2016 biannual Akutagawa Award (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Akutaga... ) which is awarded to "the best serious literary story published in a newspaper or magazine by a new or rising author". It, and other Murata books, have been translated by Ginny Tapley Takemori (https://www.wordswithoutborders.org/c... ) and the Audible version is wonderfully read by Nancy Wu (https://www.audiofilemagazine.com/nar... ).

4* For someone who does not usually like higher pitched voices, Wu's Keiko kept me glued to the audio. For someone who doesn't normally like novels about thirty-somethings' angst, Murata's novel sped along and was a delightful read. At only 163 pages it is well worth popping in your bag for a train/plane journey.

1 comment:

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