Sayaka Murata is a Japanese author who writes on uncomfortable topics. Her bestseller, Konbini Ningen コンビニ人間, was translated into English and published as Convenience Store Woman a few days ago.
Her stories are uncomfortable. They’re not for everyone, and certainly not for people looking for a feel-good tale about Japan. As someone who worked for four months at FamilyMart and who read the original Japanese version two years ago, though, I loved the novel. The horror of the protagonist’s isolation is something that personally hits very close to home.
The Financial Times publishes an excellent series called ‘Lunch With The FT’ every weekend, and a few weeks ago decided to profile Sayaka Murata. It’s an excellent profile from their Tokyo correspondent:
“If I were born again, I would choose to be a woman,” she says, gathering up her bag, checking its contents and twisting around to the beautiful view from the bay window behind her after nearly two hours with her back to it. There is a darting efficiency to the bag-gathering which has the slightest feel of shelf-stacking. I wonder if she has noticed me noticing that. “The shrapnel left in my mind after having a hard time is very important to me. I was able to discover so many things by being hurt. If I led another life, I would want to lead one in which I was hurt — without that I wouldn’t be able to be the same me.”
I can’t wait for Murata’s next novel.