Convenience Store Woman (Grove, $20), by Sayaka Murata, is an intimate glimpse into an ordinary life that, in the eyes of society, is still not ordinary enough. The book’s protagonist, Keiko, is quite content with her self-acclaimed peculiar, quiet existence, but everyone around her is always trying to judge and “fix” her. Keiko’s internal dialogue and her attempts to construct a “normal” identity make this book one of the best character studies in modern literature. This tiny novel packs in a Kafkaesque look at conformity, questions about how to live one’s life and what it means to be “normal.” all with a fiercely feminist voice and sharp insight. Get it for someone who is looking for the perfect entry point into contemporary Japanese literature, or for a slightly quirky and unsettling read.
Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata