Inconvenient

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Convenience Store Woman
(Konbini Ningen) by Sayaka Murata,
translated by Ginny Tapley Takemori.
Granta Books, 2019 (2016).

Quirky. Hilarious. Weird. Funny. Comical. Cute. Dreamy. Just some of the adjectives from press reviews littering the cover of the edition I read of Sayaka Murata’s Konbini Ningen. Yet, strangely, these wouldn’t have been the words I’d’ve used, which perhaps only goes to show that I’m an atypical reader.

Sad. Affirmative. Blistering. Honest. Critical. Familiar. Unconventional. These are the terms that come to my mind after having completed this first-person novella of a woman in her thirties who works part-time in a Japanese convenience store. Not a trace of dreaminess, quirkiness or real comedy did I detect. It really matters who’s in the audience for this little drama.

For the fact of the matter is that Keiko Furukura doesn’t fit the norm of a woman approaching middle age in Japanese society; and her attempts to fit in as best she can lead to rather mixed results. Can she – or rather should she – be “fixed” or “cured” of her thinking and behaviours? That’s the crux of this thought-provoking piece of what one might class as autobiografiction.

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