Convenience Store Woman caught me off guard. On first look, it appeared sweet, charming and a comfortable escape. In actuality, turning its pages, I found it a sometimes funny, sometimes unsettling, completely unpredictable commentary on the disconnect of modern society, and the problems of conformity. It was one of my favorite reads of the year.
Keiko is a convenience store worker in Japan. She is an expert at her job, and has been there longer than anyone. Her family and society expects her to move on from her job which is considered entry-level, get married and have a family. Keiko has no interest in fulfilling expectations, and seems to operate on a different plane than others. When she meets Shiraha, a self-proclaimed social outcast, her life begins to shift in ways that seem good according to what is expected of her, but that might not be as straightforward as people around her imagine.
An award winning novel in Japan, it is the first of ten novels by author Sayaka Murata to be translated into English.