RAS Book Club

The Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata

Convener: Dagmar Borchard

The Convenience Store Woman tells the story of 36-year old Keiko who has worked for 18 years in a dead-end job in a Japanese convenience store. She lives alone, has never had a boyfriend or even had sex, but she is perfectly happy with that. Keiko strives desperately to attain a life that family, co-workers and society might consider ordinary. Her strange thoughts and dismissal of accepted societal norms and expectations provide constant entertainment.

It takes Murata only 150 pages to eviscerate three of Japans most sacred cows: marriage, workplace and “normal life”. The Convenience Store Woman is a quick, fantastic read that tackles questions of the self and the struggle to fit into a conformist society, though with a careful balance of humour and thoughtfulness.

Sayaka Murata has been called Japan’s most radical new literary voice. Her writings explore the different consequences of nonconformity in society for men and women. The Convenience Store Woman, Murata’s 10th novel, won the prestigious Akutagawa Literary Prize. It has sold 600,000 copies in Japan and in 2018 became her first book to be translated into English. Throughout her writing career, Murata has worked part-time as a convenience store clerk in Tokyo.

Please note: this is a book discussion, not a talk. The author will not be present.

RSVP: bookevents@royalasiaticsociety.org.cn

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