(Book Review / 感想) コンビニ人間 / 村田沙耶香 * Convenience Store Woman / Sayaka Murata

Because of its catchy title and the very interesting background of the author (she works for convenience store), this book was everywhere when she won the Akutagawa Prize in 2016.


Because I tend to pick the book which is more relatable to myself, this book Convenience Store Woman was something I have been avoiding to pick up. I decided to give it a try when I found out it is finally translated into English…


Surprisingly, I really enjoyed reading this book. It was about the life of a woman who finds it hard to assimilate with the societal norm to behave ‘normally’ in Japan. The main character works for the convenience store as a part-timer although she is mid-thirty.


What it means to be ‘normal’ and who decides it is ‘normal’? Contrasting the main character’s viewpoints to monotone manualised behaviour and scenery of convenience store, the book well depicts the ‘unusuality’ in Japanese society. (maybe it is not limited to Japan??? It could be applied to any modernised society.)


How people treat staff at a convenience store, how they act like emotionless machines, and how people see you when you are not considered ‘normal’ in the society? All of these topics made me finish this book in all in one go!


Also, it made me feel uncomfortable reading about the unlikable main character and the reactions towards her from people surrounding her. It was so vivid and real, how people treat all those people who are not ‘normal.’


As I am the one feeling a bit uncomfortable about these ‘safe options for life.’ Japanese lifetime choice is almost like a railroad. Your path is already given to you. You are already on a track, based on the level of your ‘specification,’ such as male/female, degree and locations of your birth. Getting out of these ‘ right paths’ could be seen as career suicide. For me, going abroad for study after getting into relatively great university, or not employed in my mid-20s were regarded as one of the suicidal acts to so many people.


Although I might not be that much of a ‘non-normal’ person compared to the main character in this book, nor I want to be like her, I still found it very interesting to read this.



I would love to re-read this in newly published English translation as well!!!

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