TITLE/AUTHOR: Convenience Store Woman; Sayaka Murata
PUBLISHER: Blackstone Audio
YEAR PUBLISHED: 2018
GENRE: Fiction / Literary
FORMAT: audio /LENGTH: 3 hours and 21 minutes
SOURCE: Library download
SETTING(s): Tokyo Japan
ONE SENTENCE SUMMARY: A short gem of a book about an unconventional woman who just didn't fit society's expectations of normal.
BRIEF REVIEW: Keiko Furukura is a 36 year old woman who has worked at Smile Mart, a convenience store for 18 years. She loves her work, does a great job making sure that the store stays organized and that things run smoothly. While she seems a bit "different", she likes her life and routines.
Even as a child she had a way of shocking others with her reactions. When the children found a blue bird dead in the park, while the other children cried, Keiko wanted to know if she could take it home for her father to cook for dinner. Another time when young boys in her class wouldn't stop fighting, she took a shovel and hit one over the head to get them to stop much to the horror of others.
As an adult, although she often feels out of place, she tries to appear normal. She doesn't understand the obsession of her sister and coworkers as to why she doesn't have a boyfriend or a better job. It isn't until she lets a short-term male convenience store employee stay with her do people begin to see her as normal but, the two misfits together are a whole other story.
I loved everything about this quiet, compelling story about society's pressure for individuals to conform. The first person narration by Keiko worked beautifully as it gave the reader the opportunity to see life and people through her slanted views which are sometimes a bit shocking and other times quite amusing. The story lets the reader speculate as to what makes Keiko "different", yes, she lacked social skills but, she also exhibited some sociopathic tendencies as well. I loved Keiko, a delightful woman whose brain was wired just a bit differently.
The story is beautifully translated from Japanese and the audio version, read by Nancy Wu was fantastic. I couldn't put this one down and will surely listen to it again or read the print edition as there were some great quotes. Give this short novella a try if you haven't done so already.
RATING: 5/5 stars
"There were two types of prejudiced people--those who had a deep-rooted urge for prejudice and those who unthinkingly repeated a barrage of slurs they'd heard somewhere."
"I decided to keep my mouth shut as best as I could outside home. I would no longer do anything of my own accord, and would either just mimic what everyone else was doing, or simply follow instructions."
" When something was strange, everyone thought they had the right to come stomping in all over your life to figure out why. I found that arrogant and infuriating, not to mention a pain in the neck. Sometimes I even wanted to shut them with a shovel to shut them up, like I did that time in elementary school."
QUESTION --- Can anyone PLEASE name any other books with quirky characters like Keiko?
You and I had completely opposite reactions to this book. I know I'm in the minority, though, as it seems that everyone I know loved this book. Maybe I should have listened to the audio version.ReplyDelete
As far as quirky characters, there's Eleanor Oliphant (Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine), Ove (A Man Called Ove), Frank (Be Frank With Me), AJ Fikry (The Storied Life of AJ Fikry), Bernadette (Where'd You Go Bernadette?) and Don Tillman (The Rosie Project). I loved all but one of these books.
I remember you did not like it. If you can spare 3+ hours and download it free from the library like I did, I'd love to hear if you have a change of opinion - such a terrific audio narration.Delete
Thanks for the suggestions, I've read all of your suggestions and liked all but the last (2).
Those are good, quirky suggestions. Read them all.Delete
Well, I guess I will have to read this one. You are one of my reliable barometers of current fiction!ReplyDelete
OMG, I hope you do read it Judy!Delete
She sounds like a pretty interesting character.ReplyDelete
The funny this is she was so happy the way she was.Delete
This sounds lovely! I think Keiko and I would be good friends.ReplyDelete
I know, why do people think they need to fix others who aren't like them? They are the weirdos in my book LOLDelete
I read this a few years ago and loved it, so I'm happy to know you loved it too!ReplyDelete
Oh good Vicki - wondering it you had the audio? I'll try and find your review.Delete
I love stories about unconventional people and this sounds like a particularly good one. It's great that you enjoyed it so much.ReplyDelete
Dorothy, I was so happy that I finally tried it. The audio was pitch perfect!Delete
What an interesting book. I have read little set in Japan or about Japan, and this seems like a good way to broaden my perspective.ReplyDelete
Jane, I hope you add it to your list as I would be interested in reading your thoughts.Delete
I really enjoyed this one and I echo Les' recommendation of The Rosie Project. I would also recommend The Girl He Used to Know. That's more of a romance but you may enjoy it.ReplyDelete
For some reason The Rosie Project didn't work well for me - not sure why. The Girl He Used to Know sounds familiar - off to check whether I've read it:)Delete
Yes, I read The Girl He Used to Know and after rereading my review I do recall enjoying it.Delete
This sounds such a beautiful novel. Quiet and unassuming. I'm definitely intrigued!ReplyDelete
A very pleasant surprise.Delete
I have enjoyed Japanese translations just about every time I've read one, and this one sounds excellent. I'm off to find it...right now. Thanks.ReplyDelete
I'll be curious to read your thoughts Sam, I didn't expect to love it so much.Delete
My quirky recommendations are: Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, which I loved, and Miss Benson's Beetle, which is equally wonderful.ReplyDelete
I read Elinor Oliphant twice (once for a book group) and I'm reading Miss Benson's Beetle right now and enjoying it.Delete
Thanks for those great quotes! Adding it to my list. :)ReplyDelete
Hope you will like it Jen.Delete
I borrowed the book from the library last year, but never got to it. Think I'll go the audio route, especially since it's so short. Thanks, Diane.ReplyDelete
The audio is the preferred version! Hope you will enjoy it.Delete
I have owned this one forever. It seems like my kind of read. Quirky, strange. Overall, different. I am pretty good at knowing what I own but that mood reading thing. I tend to not look through all of my lists when I am picking a book so I keep missing this one in the rotation.ReplyDelete
Lesley mentioned so many quirky reads. Miss Benson was quirky too, there was The Music Shop also by Rachel Joyce. Mr. Penumbra's 24 hour Bookstore, and who could forget The Accidental Tourist?
I hope you will read this one, I'd love to read your thoughts. I read The Accidental Tourist years ago, I should find that one again. Never tried Mr. P's 24 Hour Bookstore - so thanks.ReplyDelete
I just read this book last weekend as well and had the same feelings as you. Keiko is just an interesting character though some of her thoughts worried me - if she had acted on those, it would have been a different genre. I thought her character was well-written though, esp how she doesn't think twice about some of the things she comes up with.ReplyDelete