'Convenience Store Woman,' by Sayaka Murata, among New Yorker magazine's Best Books 2018

JIJI, Kyodo

“Convenience Store Woman,” a novel by author Sayaka Murata, has made the cut of nine titles for the New Yorker magazine’s Best Books 2018.

“It was so unexpected. I was very surprised,” Murata said after hearing the news. “I adore the magazine, so I’m very honored.”

“Convenience Store Woman,” which won Japan’s prestigious Akutagawa Prize for literature in 2016, depicts the everyday life of an 18-year veteran part-time staffer at a convenience store.

The literary award, which is announced biannually for serious literature written by up-and-coming authors, is arguably the nation’s most prestigious literary award along with the Naoki Prize, which is announced the same day and given to authors of popular fiction who have achieved some success but have yet to reach the top tier of their profession.

A former convenience store worker herself, Murata tells the story of 36-year-old Keiko Furukawa, who doesn’t tick the boxes of middle class conformity such as having a full-time job and being married. She feels removed from society and has struggled to be like others.

The English version of the book was published in the United States in June. The work is set to be translated into 20 languages according to Bungeishunju Ltd., the Tokyo-based publisher of its Japanese version.

The novel also won Britain’s Foyles’ Book of the Year in the fiction in category last month.

During a speaking event held in November at the Japan Society in New York, Murata said it is not a sad thing for a woman to not have a child.

Noting that women in Japan are under pressure to give birth, Murata added all the people should live freely regardless of what are considered social norms.

Dozens of local fans waited in lines to get Murata’s autograph after the talks.