Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata
(Translated from Japanese by Ginny Tapley Takemori)
What is the definition of normal? Who defines what is needed to be an acceptable part of the society? Who defines what is happiness? And is your normal my normal?
These were some of the things that I thought about when I finished reading this book. At first, I thought the book was similar to Eleanor Oliphant, since Keiko seemed to be like Eleanor- weird and likeable. But this is where the similarity ends. Eleanor’s life changes when she meets Raymond, she finds out about her past and that helps her find her way in the world.
But when Keiko meets Shiraha, her life changes too, but not in the way you would expect normally. This is where I realised, that even I was culpable of categorising Keiko’s weirdness to some problem in her past, that needed to be solved. When I reached the end, I realised the error in my thinking. And I stood corrected. I saw the flaw in myself, in my own social conditioning of the definition of normal. I realised, how biased I was, even though I think of myself as a very accepting and open minded person. Keiko is not like me, but that doesn’t mean she needs to be like me to be accepted in this society.
We all need a method or a purpose in our lives, to help us navigate everything in this world. If my method is different than yours, why does it matter? As long as we are not hurting anyone with our choice of method, what does it matter what our choice of method is?
A short book, strangely funny at times, and yet, something that makes you think- about society, what is acceptable, our deeply embedded stereotypes, and the fact that everyone has a method to be able to survive happily. I enjoyed it, can be read in a single sitting I think:)