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Convenience Store Woman

Narrated by: Nancy Wu
Length: 3 hrs and 21 mins
Categories: Fiction, Literary
4 out of 5 stars (1,420 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Tokyo resident Keiko Furukara has never fit in - neither in her family, nor in school - but when at the age of 18 she begins working at the Hiiromachi branch of national convenience store chain Smile Mart, she realizes instantly that she has found her purpose in life. Delighted to be able to exist in a place where the rules of social interaction are crystal clear (many are laid out line-by-line in the store's manual), Keiko does her best to copy the dress, mannerisms, and mode of speech of her colleagues, playing the part of a "normal" person excellently, more or less.

Keiko is the perfect employee - never late, always worrying about how to maximize sales, brilliantly conscientious, and highly energetic. Managers come and go but Keiko remains at the store for 18 years. It's almost hard to tell where the store ends and she begins. At 36, Keiko is very happy in her life, but the people close to her, from her family to her coworkers, pressure her to settle down with a man and to find a proper profession. Eventually, she is pushed to make a huge change. The static world of Keiko is upended - but will it be for the better?

A brilliant depiction of an unusual psyche and an extraordinary world, Convenience Store Woman is both an ironic and sharp-eyed look at contemporary work culture and the pressures to conform, as well as a charming and completely fresh portrait of an unforgettable heroine.

©2018 Sayaka Murata and Ginny Tapley Takemori (P)2018 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

Editor's Pick

Would everyone just quit it!?
"Keiko's reality might not be my preferred reality, but the convenience store where she has worked for 18 years is her home and her happy place…she's very good at her job and feels very satisfied it, if only the rest of the world would quit telling her she's supposed to want a different life. In her mid-30s, Keiko's being pressured to 'get serious,' get a bigger job, get married, etc. And as she hatches a plan to just get the world off her back for a minute, you'll find yourself scratching your head and wondering why we even want all the things we think we want. Short, funny, delightfully subversive, and possibly a little bit genius, this was one of my favorite listens last year."
Emily C., Audible Editor

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Am amazing and different story

I wasn't sure about this book at first but the description gave it promise. the story was so much better than I thought. for a short story I was so engaged that I was even getting angry with one of the characters lol. I don't know enough about autism or people of the spectrum to say that the main character is but she does sound like descriptions I have heard about people that are. definitely give it listen. the narrator was so good with the different voices!!!

57 of 59 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

cute, and quirky

It was an easy listen. Something you can listen to as you wash dishes or do choirs. The book itself was rather quirky. Two strange people find themselves and try to pull of being normal humans and abide by society rules. You sympathize with the protagonist and also are happy with how she herself knows were she belongs.

16 of 16 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Louise
  • Laguna Niguel, CA, USA
  • 08-07-18

So good

Easy listening from the point of view of a woman with asperger syndrome. I love the book and the look into Japanese culture especially regarding single women. I especially love the ending.

45 of 47 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Pamela
  • United States
  • 03-01-19

Unusual and entertaining novella

This book is unlike anything I'd listened to before. It seems to fit the trend of books with quirky, somewhat unlikable narrators who appear to be on the spectrum and who learn to connect to the world, like Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine or Britt-Marie Was Here. Yet this narrator is stranger and does nothing to ingratiate herself to readers. Perhaps because of this, she is a more interesting, and the setting of the Japanese convenience store adds to the overall sense of delving into a very particular world. The narrator does a great job bringing this character to life, and I felt transported by the story. I recommend this for the novelty of it, particularly for readers interested in contemporary Japan.

27 of 28 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

A Round Egg Can Be Made Square...

This is a very short book. I think most of the reviews are longer! I waited to write my review because Convenience Store Woman ended and it seemed to be unfinished. I feel differently now. That was the point. The entire book is about making a round egg square which is an unending task by its very nature. Making a round egg square is something that can be achieved in appearance but not in lasting reality. The darkness in Convenience Store Woman comes from exaggerating and expanding the pressure society places on people to fill specific roles and exhibit certain behaviors. The author presents us with a duality. Early in the book, we see very clearly that the main character's nonconformity can be unhealthy. Then, as the story progresses, society's love for conformity is questioned - challenging the reader to reconsider our love for conformity and open the possibility to make room for those who are different - even the strangest and the most banal. This book has changed me...each time I shop at what I call the Japanese Market, I think about it.

24 of 25 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Quirky and original

I really enjoyed this quirky and dark-humored story. The main character, Keiko, is so bizarre and original. There isn't much of a plot, but it's a fascinating look at societal expectations. Nancy Wu did an excellent job narrating.

35 of 37 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

A unique tale of finding your place in life

Nancy Wu is a wonderful narrator. Her voice lends itself to the story, helping draw you in . I have, basically, no criticism to say for the narration at all.

The story is pretty good. It's interesting to think about things from our main characters perspective. A lot of this story is exactly like we have seen things to be in Japanese convenience stores. They have their speech that feel s very rehearsed. The store is typically stocked really nicely and there is usually some food promotion that is going on.

The reason for me marking this as only 3 stars is because of how the author decided to make the behaviors of the primary male figure. While I understand that there are people that can behave that way, and perhaps there are more of them in Japan, having the main character treat his behaviors like there isn't anything wrong with them strikes as a tad unbelievable. For example, if someone told you that you were to ugly to sleep with, would you invite them to move in with you? How about after they continue to remind you that you are just a burden on society because you are to old to have children? Still would move in with them?

I still did enjoy this book though and do recommend reading it if you'd like a glimpse in to konbini life in Japan.

38 of 41 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Odd, yet realistic

This is the story of a strangd young woman. Something is a bit off about her, as though she is missing a few of the moving parts for her humanity to work. She makes herself into a machine, only giving herself exactly what she needs to function in the very specific role of a convenience store worker, and adopting parts of other people to male herself more real(istic). It is as though she is merely masquerading as a human. As odd as she is, the story is believable and quite compelling. I wanted to know what would happen to next and, ultimately, what would become of her. The narration is great and works well for the story.

32 of 35 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

For everyone who's ever felt like an outsider.

A short listen, but a great story with a bittersweet ending that will make you want to hop on a plane and visit a Japanese convenience store.

20 of 22 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Fun and Thought Provoking

A sympathetic and heroic story of one of society's undesirables who dared to do things her own way. I think this book is often misunderstood as a twisted love letter to Capitalism. I think its actually a story about living intentionally and purposefully even if it follows the values and insights of a functionally autistic middle aged woman.

14 of 16 people found this review helpful