Posted on 06/13/2018 at 11:58 AM by Sadye Scott-Hainchek

Convenience Store Woman, winner of Japan's prestigious Akutagawa Prize in 2016, has hit the physical and digital bookshelves in the U.S.

The New York Times profiled author Sayaka Murata and the cultural significance of her novel, just recently translated into English.

The title character, Keiko, is thirty-six years old, has never been in a relationship and certainly has never had sex, and has spent half of her life working at a convenience store.

All of this is in defiance of her friends and family, who pressure her to find a man and a more prestigious job.

“I wanted to illustrate how odd the people who believe they are ordinary or normal are,” Murata told the newspaper. “They are the so-called normal people, but when you switch the direction of the camera, it is they who appear strange or odd.”

Keiko also personifies Japan’s demographic panic — “Japanese media is filled with stories about declining marriage and low birth rates, as well as references to ominous surveys about young people who are virgins or have forsaken dating and sex,” the NYT points out.

Convenience Store Woman is Murata’s tenth novel — though only her first translated into English — and has sold close to 600,000 copies in Japan.

It went on sale in hardcover and digital format on Monday.

Categories: Today in Books

Tagged As: New release

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