Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata

A bestseller in Japan, Convenience Store Woman is an offbeat, tongue-in-cheek read, filled with the minuscule joys of everyday life, and a tale of finding one’s own path to happiness.

Book Review by Laura Waddell | 02 Jul 2018
  • Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata
Book title: Convenience Store Woman
Author: Sayaka Murata, translated by Ginny Tapley Takemori

Every day, Keiko welcomes shoppers to the convenience store she works in with a well-practiced bow and greeting of irasshaimase! (welcome). It is in these moments she finds a true sense of contentment.

“When morning comes, once again I’m a convenience store worker, a cog in society. This is the only way I can be a normal person." 

After the school days where she struggled to fit in with her peers, to the bemusement of all around, the routine and order of her job is deeply satisfying. Each morning, workers group in the back room before opening up shop, practising greetings. Daily specials are announced over the tannoy, and new products offered with varying success – mango-chocolate buns, anyone?

Keiko's life is arranged to the rhythms of the store, and at night, before she closes her eyes, she dwells on the sounds and sensations of the day as she falls asleep. Only when others interfere do things go awry, as their misguided attempts at improving Keiko’s welfare after years of shelf stacking only reveal their own rigid adherence to the one-size-fits-all norms of society.

A bestseller in Japan, Convenience Store Woman is an offbeat, tongue-in-cheek read, filled with the minuscule joys of everyday life, and a tale of finding one’s own path to happiness.

Portobello Books, 5 July, £12.99