Convenience Store Woman

by Sayaka Murata

Welcome to the weird and (occasionally) wonderful world of Keiko Furukura and her beloved Convenience Store.

Marginalised by ordinary society, and following a confusing and at times problematic childhood, Keiko finds it difficult to find her place in the modern world, until she stumbles accross the Convenience Store.  In this delightful fable of contemporary human existence, Keiko, with the guidance of the bizarre and repulsive Shiraha,  must make a choice – between her place as a cog in the global corporate machine ( “my hourly pay covered the basic requirement to condition my body so it was fit to take to work”) and the perhaps equally opressive social imperative created by others’ opinions and expectations.

A marvellous Japanese novel which will get you thinking.

Published by Granta; £8.99

The Western Wind

By Samantha Harvey

Samantha Harvey’s novel of a 15th Century Somerset village and an unanticipated death is an absolute treat.  

Following the investigations of the local vicar, John Reve, into the untimely demise of his friend Thomas Newman, this brooding, sombre novel set over 4 days in the lead up to Lent 1491 provides real insight into pre-Reformation rural England. 

As Harvey expertly explores the narrative in reverse, beginning with the events of Shrove Tuesday and working back to “the reveal” on the previous Saturday she also offers, through the story of the tormented and torn John Reve’s efforts to protect his flock, a fascinating and moving meditation on where lines are drawn between faith and superstition, belief in God and the Church, the “right” path and the good path.

Published by Vintage; £8.99