Convenience Store Woman
By Sayaka Murata, and and, Ginny Tapley Takemori
One of The Reading Agency Books of the Year 2018
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Meet Keiko. Keiko is 36 years old. She’s never had a boyfriend, and she’s been working in the same supermarket for eighteen years. Keiko’s family wishes she’d get a proper job. Her friends wonder why she won’t get married. But Keiko knows what makes her happy, and she’s not going to let anyone come between her and her convenience store…Tweet
Everyone in the book club finished this book, it is pretty short!
We all found that we felt quite sorry for Keiko in the beginning along with feeling worried for those around her. Keiko seems not to be able to understand social cues and why people do the things they do. She finds it hard to know why it's not ok to hurt other people in order to get them to do what she wants. She has grown up and knows now that it's not acceptable but we felt that she still wasn't completely understanding why this is. Given this Keiko is actually very observant when it comes to other people and copying them to fit in more. She even notices things like her sister changing her style of dress and speech when she changes her friends.
We all felt that the shop defined Keiko in a way that nothing else did. Without the shop she just fell to pieces and had no idea when to do things or why she was doing them. Everything she did down to the amount of sleep she got and food she ate was to ensure she was in peak condition to work in the shop. She even fell asleep to the imagined sound of the shop, she found it so comforting.
We found Shiraha to be a thoroughly unpleasant person with clear mysogynistic tendencies towards Keiko and all other women. He had such a weird idea of what other people were there for. He clearly hadn't learnt the rules to fitting in as well as Keiko had.
The ending of the book was just perfect, we all felt much happier about Keiko after we'd read that ending.
Overall we gave this book 6 out of 10.
I thoroughly enjoyed this delightfully quirky novel with its likeable, oddball (aspergers?) narrator telling her conveience store story with brilliantly dead pan humour. Definitely different and highly recommended.