Set in Tokyo, Convenience Store Woman is a simple story with complex subtext
Written and translated by a woman, this story is set in Tokyo and is all about a woman who starts working at a convenience store in college and never leaves even though friends and family try to get her to see the error of her ways.
Convenience Store Woman, Sayaka Murata
Genre: General Fiction
Published 2016, 163 pages
I'm torn with my opinion. A quirky book with weird characters, I found it entertaining and sort of a societal commentary about sexist expectations....get a good job (not at a convenience store), get married, have kids, and then you're normal. However, Keiko liked her job at the store, was good at it and comfortable with it - until others told her there's something wrong with her and wondered why was she still there, etc.
On the other hand, the two main characters were kind of cookie-cutter people to represent the extremes of being on the 'outside'. They said nothing insightful about society or their place (or lack) in it. The observations made by various characters about societal expectations were correct, but not particularly original nor presented in an interesting way.
It seemed that the point of having any of the supporting characters show up was to berate Keiko about her lack of motivation or lack of a husband. At one point she actually pretends to have a boyfriend just to "fit in." Isn't that a sad commentary on society?
I read this as part of the #BookRiot Read Harder challenge, a book written and translated by a woman. I read this book with my ears. (I've heard audio books described that way and think it's funny..... I listened to it on my commute.) It's such a quick read and a unique storytelling style that it might be worth it for a weekend read - you could probably finish it in a few hours.
As a side note, since I just finished a book about autism (The Reason I Jump), I noticed Keiko almost behaves as if she's on the spectrum - awkward in public situations, prefers strict routines, etc. It was a thought I had early in the story though it's never explained from that viewpoint.
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