I picked up Convenience Store Woman a little while ago after hearing excellent things about it online. It’s short – about 150 pages, so I read it over the course of a day or so at the weekend.
It follows the story of Keiko – a 36 year old convenience store worker. Her life revolves around the store, and she found that although she felt like when she was younger she never fitted in anywhere, the store is where she belongs.
Keiko quite evidently has some sort of social disability from how she thinks one should deal with a crying baby, to how she decides to break up a fight. You really get into Keiko’s mind, and she is an interesting character even if I did not entirely agree with all of her actions.
I began to feel for Keiko more when Shiraha entered the scene. Shiraha was one of the convenience store workers, and takes advantage of Keiko when he becomes jobless. He pins societal norms onto her whilst simultaneously dismissing societal expectations placed on himself. He’s an odd character who is incapabable of any self-reflection. Some parts actually made me feel a bit uncomfortable in how unkind he was to her. I do admire Keiko’s emotionless resolve though.
I’m not sure why the author tried to highlight the ridiculous of societal norms in some cases through Shiraha, it seemed at odds with Keiko’s sense of belonging at the convenience store. Similarly, Keiko did not seem to mind being different yet imitated colleagues’ speech patterns and clothing styles to fit in. I think perhaps the author needed to explore that a little further, what drove Keiko? Was it the logic and routine of working in a convenience store? Is having a job and friends at odds with rejecting society?
Overall I did like this, even if I found the message a little mixed. It’s paced well, has an interesting protaganist and has some dark humour thrown in.
Have you ever read Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata? What did you think about it?