It’s been a while since I’ve done a book review. I finished this back in January but the start of the semester and the end of society distracted me from writing up a review.
Convenience Store Woman is about exactly that. It about the experience of Keiko Furukura a woman in her mid-thirties who has worked for a convenience shop all of her adult life. Keiko finds comfort in the routine the store provides her. Every social interaction is considered and controlled. There’s a clear structure to her day thanks to the shift system. She doesn’t have to worry about what to wear thanks to the uniform.
Outside of life, she finds everything a lot harder. Social interactions are unpredictable. People have expectations that Keiko doesn’t understand and they don’t understand why she is both single and happy working in a convenience store for the rest of her life. She gets increasingly irritated that people don’t understand that her life doesn’t conform to societal norms. When she meets Shiraha, a rather deadbeat misogynist, she sees an opportunity to placate her family and friends by quitting her job and pretending to settle down. However, she finds it very difficult to adjust to her newfound freedom.
The author never tells the reader why Keiko is different. As a reader you get a clear sense that Keiko is different but it feels natural thanks to the way Murata portrays her thoughts and interactions. You never feel sorry for her or pity. In fact, I felt there was a comfort in the way she viewed the world. A safety to it. In some ways, I thought Keiko’s portrayal was a very accurate portrayal of ASD in places, whether that was intentional or not.
Convenience Store Woman is Murata’s first novel to be translated from Japanese. Earthlings is due to be released later this year and I look forward to reading more of her work. I haven’t read the work of many Japanese authors but Murata and Murakami have certainly encouraged me to explore more.