- MP3 CD: 1 pages
- Publisher: Blackstone Audio; Unabridged MP3CD edition (12 June 2018)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1538555611
- ISBN-13: 978-1538555613
- Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 1.5 x 17 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 81.6 g
- Average Customer Review: 4 customer reviews
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Convenience Store Woman MP3 CD – Audiobook, MP3 Audio, Super Audio CD - DSD
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About the Author
Sayaka Murata is one of Japan's most exciting contemporary writers. She herself still works part time in a convenience store, which was the inspiration to write Convenience Store Woman, her English-language debut and winner of one of Japan's most prestigious literary prizes, the Akutagawa Prize. Her work has appeared in Freeman's, Granta, and elsewhere.
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Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
The author does a great job of not telling us what the truth is, but rather letting us walk around in Keiko's skin as she observes the other humans around her. From this we pick up hints that Keiko isn't passing for normal as much as she believes. When she gets a man in her life, the metaphoric aspects of the story deepen. For all her weirdness, and for all his toxic unsuitability, the people around her relax and accept her more. They celebrate that she is now part of a couple.
The entire theme of the story, in my mind, and as some other commentors have said, is "what we have to do to meet societal expectations." A subtext of this theme is gender roles: what men and women are expected to do. As a flesh-and-blood human adult with the emotional capability of a 2-year-old, Keiko is nevertheless adept at mimicry. So she studies humans and copies their sentences, their voices, and their behaviors in order to fit in. Failure to do so will result in expulsion from the body, much like a bad meal. Over and over again, Keiko sees her existence as a cell within a body (her immediate social surroundings), and compliance means she gets to remain within the body. The metaphor is almost chilling, but the story while dark isn't unhappy. It even has a happy ending, a nice positive (if abrupt) character arc for Keiko.
What I took away from CSW is that we need to be more accepting of those humans among us who aren't "normal." What I enjoyed the most about it was walking around inside the head of a sociopath. An intriguing, compelling short novel.
The novel does not have an elaborate plot and the drama and tension largely comes from the narrator’s observation of her own life and others as a convenience store employee. But for those who may be looking to read the book because of this conceit, the personality of the narrator may make or break how and whether or not you read the book. While I recommend the book, the book’s narrator main character Keiko Furukawa is depicted as a person who, to quote the character herself: "would no longer do anything of my own accord, and would either just mimic what everyone else was doing, or simply follow instructions."
In both childhood flashbacks and repeated interjections throughout the novel it is repeatedly mentioned how “emotionless” Keiko feels she is and how she sees herself more as a vessel and a representation of the emotions and mores of her environment. Murata often makes it a point to frame Keiko's thoughts and behaviors in each scene to deliberately highlight how both emotionless and nonplussed Keiko can be toward life. Keiko's personality and the reader’s is tested when Keiko enters an unorthodox relationship with a toxic and verbally abusive man. This man is seen as a failure by family, former neighbors and coworkers. In his rage, he sees not just women but all people and the world itself as having personally wronged him. Her relentless tolerance of this poisonous individual and his abuse tests her patience and likely will for some readers as well.
The novel’s sardonic humor and grim depiction of the constant pressure for women to get married and have children is a lasting one. I came to see the comedy from the drama of working as a cog in the 24/7 low-wage, high-turnover convenience store world as second to the determinedly emotionless way the narrator sees the world.
At 163 pages in the compact hardcover, it is a quick read. I was able to finish the book in a single sitting. Ginny Tapley Takemori’s translation of Murata’s prose is unfussy and delivers the main character’s dry and often deadpan voice simply.
It’s always beneficial to end a year of reading on a cherry note. And Convenience Store Clerk definitely does that! It’s a funny and nuanced story of one Japanese girl’s search to find her place in society. As a child, she discovers that she is extremely - well- pragmatic when it comes to human relations. But her inclination to employ physical harm when necessary makes her family very concerned. So she hides her true nature away and stays quiet.
After graduation, she finds her bliss. That this place ends up being a convenience store - she sees herself as an animal drawn to the store - bothers her not at all. But cut to 18 years later, and it’s clear that her life decisions have begun to bother everyone else in her circle of family and friends.
The protagonist’s strategy to relieve her life of some external stressors winds up being extremely funny. She adopts a pet, so to speak, and gives it run of the bathtub; she also delivers its feed there. How this situation plays out in real life made me laugh like a loon and shake my head about Japanese expectations of social consensus, homogeneity, and efficiency. It’s like a zippy, 2 hour trip to Tokyo, without the jet lag!
A fun book that also, if you give it a chance, will make you think a bit.