Publisher: Granta Books
Publication Date: 02/05/2019
Length: 163 pages
Genre: Translated Fiction | Japanese Fiction | Contemporary Fiction
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…
After reading Earthlings and loving it, I immediately bought Convenience Store Woman as I just wanted to experience more of Murata’s writing. This book has left me feeling the same way and I’m quite disappointed that not more of her work has been translated into English!
I adored Keiko, she was such a wonderful protagonist. I love her view on the world and how other people perceive her too, even if it is quite heartbreaking the lengths she will go to in order to just be viewed as a working cog in society. Both Keiko and the other characters in the novella offer a really interesting critique of Japanese society and the expectations on men and women.
I also loved the way Murata’s writing makes the novella almost have a subtle sci-fi, or even a dystopian, feel to it. Despite the seriousness of Keiko’s situation there was also a lot of humour that could be found too. Although the novel is just a snapshot at Keiko’s life, I was surprised at how much the novella covers and how the pages just few past, I found that I was unable to put the novella down. I found that I was torn with wanting Keiko to be true to herself but also wanting her to be accepted by everyone. I thought the ending was great- whilst the story started to go in a direction I wasn’t quite expecting I thought the end was very satisfying.
As I read Earthlings first, I couldn’t help but compare the two – especially as there were some aspects with the protagonists that were similar. Whilst I did find that I preferred Earthlings, I still really enjoyed this novella and reading about Keiko’s life and her struggles. I really hope that more of Murata’s work is translated into English.