Posts Tagged ‘Sayaka Murata’

I got Sayaka Murata’sConvenience Store Woman‘ as a Christmas present from one of my favourite friends. I thought I’ll read it as the first book for ‘January in Japan‘.

In Sayaka Murata’s story, Keiko the main character in the story, works in a convenience store. She is thirty-six years old and she has been working here for eighteen years. She is good at her job. She is introverted and doesn’t have many friends. When she was young, she used to speak her mind, but then she discovered that it doesn’t go well with people, because she was brutally honest. So she has learnt to hide her true thoughts and behave like a regular, conforming person. Her sister understands her and sometimes helps her in making her ‘conforming mask’ better. The story describes Keiko’s work at the convenience store, her relationship with her co-workers, her relationship with her sister and parents, her time with the few friends she has. We also get to know about Keiko’s real thoughts on different things and get to see up close, how an introvert’s, a non-conforming person’s mind works. Then something happens in Keiko’s life which changes it upside down and what happens after that forms the rest of the story.

Convenience Store Woman‘ is one of the great introvert novels. It reminded me a lot of Patrick Süskind’sThe Pigeon‘. I fell in love with Keiko from the first page. She works in a job which she loves, but which others regard as a dead-end job, and her life follows a beautiful routine and rhythm that she is comfortable with. But the world tries intruding into her life frequently, judges her, tries to change her and make her conform, and she resists it with all her being. And we cheer for her and we hope that she wins. There is a character called Shiraha who makes an appearance at some point in the book, and we hate him as soon as we see him (atleast I did), but he speaks some of the most profound lines in the book. It is like the villain in a movie offering deep insights into the human condition. It was hard to love him, because he was a mean, selfish character, but it was also hard to ignore him, because he was wise.

Convenience Store Woman‘ is also a beautiful love letter to the convenience store. The convenience store itself is a character in the story and when Keiko says at some point that it speaks to her, we realize that the book is a love story, with Keiko and the convenience store as the two lovers. Sayaka Murata has written a beautiful essay at the end of the book, which explains this in more detail.

I loved ‘Convenience Store Woman‘. My reading this year has started wonderfully I think, because I think this will end up as one of my favourite books of the year.

Have you read ‘Convenience Store Woman‘? What do you think about it?

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