I enjoyed getting to know Keiko, the titular character of Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata.
Keiko has never really fit in but has found her place in society as a part time convenience store worker, a menial job she has worked for the past eighteen years. Despite being thirty-six, unmarried and childless, Keiko is happy. But pressure is mounting from family and friends for Keiko to conform to society by finding a husband and a “real” career.
The novel follows Keiko’s attempts to lead a more normal life, including mimicking the mannerisms of people around her and entering a fake relationship with a colleague to fend off concern from her family and friends.
This short but sweet novel is a celebration of those who endure a distinct feeling of differentness from others. One may not be completely satisfied with how Keiko’s story ends but I think that is the point! It challenges societal expectations, particularly of women, single women and childless women. It is interesting to note that the author herself worked at a convenience store and based the novel on her own experiences.
For anyone who has ever felt like they didn’t fit in, this novel is for you.