"They are enjoying being robots," a Tokyo friend of mine once explained, after I had unfavorably compared 7-Eleven clerks to automatons. Ubiquitous and abundant, convenience stores in Japan are an icon of modern life. But, behind the clockwork efficiency, are they in fact manned by contented robots?

Convenience Store Woman, by Sayaka Murata, Translated by Ginny Tapley Takemori.176 pagesGROVE ATLANTIC, Fiction.

"When morning comes, once again I'm a convenience store worker, a cog in society. This is the only way I can be a normal person."