'Convenience Store Woman' by Sayaka Murata, is a book that confronts societal norms and expectations, delivering through its heartfelt story the significance of being true to oneself.
Main character Keiko, is considered a bit odd by her family and friends. She in turn, wonders why people expect her to lead a similar life to theirs, feeling rather distressed about that, yet trying to adjust. There is a slight darker side to her character that is partially camouflaged, as Keiko questions criterions or matters around her.
Keiko finds comfort in her job; working at a convenient store, she enjoys the discipline of work, the patterns of products on rows in food cabinets, identifying affinity in the monotone and attracted by the neon lights of a convenient store, the place where she finds purpose in her role and life; a bewildering notion to her family. Finding it hard to socially interact, in Keiko's quest of doing so, imitates those around her, such as through the store’s training videos teaching her facial expressions.
Her co-workers and family interrogate her, pressurising her to look for a husband, a better job and start thinking of having children.
As she begins her journey into ‘fitting in’, her orderly pleasant life comes undone, encountering concerns and issues along the way (most would probably prefer to avoid in life).
A captivating book written in a smart and delightful manner with a meaningful frame. This book questions society, expectations, assumptions, and what happiness looks like, outlining that the meaning of happiness or contentment varies for each one of us, as does what our purpose in life may be.
Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata, translated from the Japanese by Ginny Tapley Takemori, published by Granta