Convenience Store Woman is narrated by Keiko Furukura, who at thirty-six is a bit old to still be working a part-time job at a convenience store, yet she can’t imagine anything else. Keiko has never fit in, not since childhood. The world has never made sense to her until the convenience store employee manual told her exactly what to do and when. It is the perfect place for her. When she is at Hiiromachi Station Smile Mart, she knows her place in the world.
Keiko’s troubles all come from friends and family, those who encourage her to see a better job or ask her about her dating life. Her disinterest in marriage in children is an oddity that draws increasing scrutiny. Her solution to that is not exactly well thought out and brings with it a new set of expectations. Can Keiko free herself from the demands of the world and find happiness where she really belongs?
I enjoyed this book and came to like Keiko despite the dispassionate worldview that sets her apart from the rest of the world. To be honest, early in the book when she’s noting that a knife would silence her young nephew more quickly, I wondered if I had wandered into a Natsuo Kirino noir novel. Not that I would mind, I love Natsuo Kirino. However, this is a different kind of noir, that of the misfit in a rigid world, a woman who has no desire for the badges of womanhood–marriage and children and is simply tired of coming up with reasons for being who she is.
Can someone be self-actualized as a convenience store clerk? Can someone love a store and a routine more than people? Why not?
On the other hand, Keiko represents the nearly perfect corporate citizen who pledges her loyalty and life to her work, investing herself in all tasks no matter how menial. Shouldn’t we be glad, then, that people annoy her by trying to direct her passion to her personal life?
I think Keiko is the only one who knows the answer to that.
I received an e-galley of Convenience Store Woman from the publisher through Edelweiss.