When Sayaka Murata writes, she blocks out the version of herself that lives in the real world, the one bound by conventionalities of a so-called functioning society. Instead, she conjures scenarios that might lead to ‘real truths’ she’s been searching for since childhood. That’s what her 10 books have been, experiments to unveil what senses dulled by normalcy can’t spot.
Konbini Ningen—Convenience Store Woman in English—became a sensation of sorts when it was published back in 2016 and addressed the revered subjects of marriage, social norms, and work dynamics in Japan head-on. In just over 160 pages, the author lays out the full picture of Keiko Furukura’s life as a single convenience store employee in her late 30’s. A self-proclaimed cog of society, her mere existence threatens the carefully assembled foundation of everything that is acceptable; and what’s more unnerving for anyone that knows her, that’s all she wants to be.
Diving into Murata’s transparent narrative is a trip. One worth taking for anyone willing to defy conventional thinking. And if that sounds odd to you, tell me, what does normal mean, anyway?
Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata. Translated by Ginny Tapley Takemori. Grove Press, September 2019.
Reviewer bio: Vanessa Cervini Rios is an avid reader in four languages and enjoys writing about the link between cultural products and the social imaginary. More words by her: 12booksclub.substack.com.
Buy this book at our affiliate Bookshop.org.