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I picked this book up only knowing that its setting was in a Japanese convenience store. Photos of mysterious, beautifully packaged snack products and onigiri (rice balls) arranged in artful displays, in flavors that will never reach our shores, have always intrigued me. In this little gem of a novella, we follow the life story of Keiko, a probably high-functioning autistic woman (although this is never mentioned) who has found a measure of fulfillment the last 20 years, working part-time shifts at the Hiromachi train station "Smile Mart." The employee manual is her Bible--and almost as long. This is not enough for Keiko's friends and family, who want her to have a husband and family, or a career. The comedy is served both light and dark, as Keiko polishes her "normal" act.
“Keiko Furukura has worked at her local convenience store for 18 years. Every day, she ensures that the shelves are tidy, the hot food bar is stocked, and the featured items are adequately displayed. She greets every customer with a cheerful ‘Irasshaimase!’ and no one notices that she’s never fit in anywhere else. Murata draws lush descriptions of the beauty of order and routine out of simple, spare prose, and every page crackles with the life she’s created. Because of the humor, the wit, the almost unbearable loveliness of it all, Convenience Store Woman, a small book about a quiet life, makes an enormous impact on the reader.”
— Lauren Peugh, Powell's Books, Portland, OR
“Rebels tend to be outlandish, extroverted, opinionated, and brassy. Thirty-six-year-old Tokyo resident Keiko Furukura, working half her life in a convenience store, defies expectations, spurns relationships, irritates her family, ignores social pressures, and inadvertently—and joyously—flips rebellion on its head.”
— Mike Hare, Northshire Bookstore, Manchester Center, VT
A sharp-eyed look at contemporary work culture and the pressures we all feel to conform, Convenience Store Woman offers a brilliant depiction of a world hidden from view and a charming and fresh portrait of an unforgettable heroine.