What is Normal? : In Conversation with Author Sayaka Murata

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October 26th, 2018 @ 6:30 pm - 8:00 pm EDT

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Sayaka Murata has a very important question that she asks in all of her work: What is normal? And how does normal become normal? Her first novel to appear in English, Convenience Store Woman, is no exception to this line of thematic inquiry. In this conversation, her first appearance in North America, Murata will discuss with Jocelyne Allen how her questions about social norms inform her work, from her writing process and early influences, the treatment of women in Japanese society, to her own years of working in convenience stores. Murata will also read from her award-winning novel and talk about the convenience store in Japan, its place in Japanese society, and how it differs from convenience stores in Canada.

The Japan Foundation, Toronto and TIFA (Toronto International Festival of Authors) look forward to hosting award-winning author Sayaka Murata.

For books by Sayaka Murata available in the Japan Foundation, Toronto library, click here.

Sayaka Murata was born and raised in Chiba, Japan (just east of Tokyo), and then attended Tamagawa University on the western edge of Tokyo. She is known for exploring nonconformity in society for men and women, particularly with regard to gender roles, parenthood, and sex. Throughout her writing career Murata has worked as a part-time convenience store clerk in Tokyo and draws much of her inspiration from her observations of everyday life in there.

Murata received the Gunzo Prize for New Writers for her first novel, Jyunyū (Breastfeeding) in 2003, the Mishima Yukio Prize for Shiro-iro no machi no, sono hone no taion no (Of Bones, Of Body Heat, of Whitening City) in 2013, the Noma Literary New Face Prize for Gin-iro no Uta (Silver Song) in 2009, and the prestigious Akutagawa Prize in 2016 for Konbini ningen (Convenience Store Woman) which became her first book to be translated into English in 2018.

Jocelyne Allen is a Japanese translator, interpreter, and writer based out of Toronto, Canada, after a decade in Japan. During her time in the Land of the Rising Sun, she worked as a magazine columnist, interpreted for foreign correspondents, and toured with a Japanese drum group. During her career as a professional translator of creative and pop culture works, she has translated a large number of short stories, novels, and manga, including the Eisner Award winning Onward Towards Our Noble Deaths. As an interpreter, she has worked with many of Japan’s most celebrated manga artists and authors, including Taiyo Matsumoto, Aya Kanno, and Hideo Furukawa. She is also the author of the novel You and the Pirates.

Ms. Murata will also be part of the Festival Pop-up at Union Station between 12:00pm and 2:00pm on Saturday, October 27, as well as participating in a panel at Harbourfront Centre on Saturday, October 27 at 4:00pm.

After her appearances in Toronto, Ms. Murata will head to the United States for events in Iowa and New York. Her full North American schedule can be found here.


October 26th, 2018 @ 6:30 pm
October 26th, 2018 @ 8:00 pm
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The Japan Foundation, Toronto
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The Japan Foundation, Toronto
2 Bloor St. East, 3rd Floor
Toronto, ON M4W 1A8 Canada
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