Book Review: Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata

This was an odd novel but I really enjoyed it, mostly because of its quirks. I first ran across Convenience Store Woman while I was in Vroman’s in 2019. This particular copy was a birthday present from my lovely boyfriend who selected it for me from the Golden Notebook bookstore in Woodstock, NY. If you haven’t been, I would highly recommend once it’s safe to roam about to far-flung book stores. The book itself didn’t last long in my hands, I read it in an hour or two on a fine Saturday morning, well as fine as it can get in the wintery slush of February. I admit, once I finished the novel, I was somewhat puzzled and unsure of how I would write my review. I liked the book but I’m still not entirely sure why. Ms. Murata acquits herself well in her first English-translated publication and the story itself is interesting. The book left me in a contemplative mood and I’m glad that I digested it a little bit more before telling all of you about it. Quick sidetone, the baking will return soon! I’ve been so busy with the start of the semester that I haven’t quite gotten my rhythm yet but I hope to have it back soon. I hope that enough of you are interested in both the books and the baking to stick around and see what I get into next! Now, on to Convenience Store Woman!

The book follows Keiko Furukura, a thirty-six years old convenience store worker in Tokyo. Keiko has been a convenience store clerk for all eighteen years of her adult life in the same store, “Smilemart”. Being a convenience store worker has given Keiko a purpose in a world where she feels that she’s always on the outside, looking in. Throughout the book, Keiko struggles to balance between where she has found meaning and where others want her to find meaning. Keiko made me terribly sad at times, especially when she described her own alienation from those in her life and how the convenience store provided a place where she could escape that. I also understood her in a weird way. I’m around the age when Keiko began working at the convenience store and I understand the joy and pleasure that Keiko derived from working at a place where the rules and expectations are set for you and all you have to to do is meet them. I think there is comfort for all of us in Keiko’s story and I would recommend reading this book. I was greatly annoyed by Shiraha, one of the major male characters but I don’t think that should prevent anyone from reading the book. Disregard Shiraha and enjoy the rest of the book please! Happy reading to all!

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