"Holy shit" books are ones that you want to immediately read again the second you turn the last page. That linger with you. Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata is 100% a holy shit book.
Originally published in 2016 where it won the Akutagawa Prize (Japan's highest literary honor) and sold half a million+ copies, this book is real good. It follows Keiko, a kind of odd woman—she doesn't relate well to people at all and basically learns to live in society by emulating others in order to seem human. In college, she gets a job at a Smile Mart convenience store, a place that sounds like a Japanese 7/11. And she never leaves. Obsessed with making the store perfect and emblematic of the diligent Japanese worker bee, she finds comfort in the sameness: the daily rushes, the regulars, the prepackaged foods and drinks, the standardized greetings and uniforms. But she never desires to become a manager—or to do/be anything at all. No love interest, nothing in her apartment, forced socialization with grade school friends. But she's not a robot, and the book takes some interesting twists as she tries to get a different job and be a different person. Murata has written an endlessly fascinating person with hauntingly tight prose; I was so fully in this world while reading it that I’m still not sure I’ve gotten over it yet.
This might have been an impossible paring to do if I didn't happen upon this delightful dark rosé. Mostly Gamay with some Cab Franc and Cab Sauv, it tastes like straight Jolly Ranchers—a mixture of Cherry and Watermelon to be precise. It's so tart yet so juicy (and not at all sweet, to be clear) with some puckering acid and a cool finish. Its bright, almost artificial-looking pinkness borders on fuschia, and I thought YES when I drank it. A natural wine that tastes like convenience store candy without the sugar? Sign me up every single day. Like Keiko, I find comfort in certain samenesses; mine just happens to be dark rosés with high acid and a lot of cranberry, aka this exact wine. So like Keiko loudly and proudly yelling “Irasshaimasé!” (welcome/come on it) to every entering customer, I’ll proclaim my love for this style of wine until the end of time.
Book: Convenience Store Woman, Sayaka Murata
🍷: Phillipe Chevrain La Decrué Rose 2017
🍇: 70% Gamay, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc
🇫🇷: Loire, France
Imported by Louis Dressner Selections
Found at Vine Wine