Books

Grove Press
Grove Press
Grove Press
NEW!

Earthlings

by Sayaka Murata Translated from Japanese by Ginny Tapley Takemori

From the beloved author of cult sensation Convenience Store Woman, which has now sold more than a million copies worldwide, comes a spellbinding and otherworldly novel about a young girl who believes she is an alien

  • Imprint Grove Hardcover
  • Page Count 256
  • Publication Date October 06, 2020
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-5700-3
  • Dimensions 5.5" x 8.25"
  • US List Price $26.00
  • Imprint Grove Hardcover
  • Publication Date October 06, 2020
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-5702-7
  • US List Price $26.00

As a child, Natsuki doesn’t fit into her family. Her parents favor her sister, and her best friend is a plush toy hedgehog named Piyyut who has explained to her that he has come from the planet Popinpobopia on a special quest to help her save the Earth. Each summer, Natsuki counts down the days until her family drives into the mountains of Nagano to visit her grandparents in their wooden house in the forest, a place that couldn’t be more different from her grey commuter town. One summer, her cousin Yuu confides to Natsuki that he is an extraterrestrial and that every night he searches the sky for the spaceship that might take him back to his home planet. Natsuki wonders if she might be an alien too. Back in her city home, Natsuki is scolded or ignored and even preyed upon by a young teacher at her cram school. As she grows up in a hostile, violent world, she consoles herself with memories of her time with Yuu and discovers a surprisingly potent inner power. Natsuki seems forced to fit into a society she deems a “baby factory” but even as a married woman she wonders if there is more to this world than the mundane reality everyone else seems to accept. The answers are out there, and Natsuki has the power to find them.

Dreamlike, sometimes shocking, and always strange and wonderful, Earthlings asks what it means to be happy in a stifling world, and cements Sayaka Murata’s status as a master chronicler of the outsider experience and our own uncanny universe.

Praise for Earthlings:

Earthlings takes the mood of colorful disquiet she honed in Convenience Store Woman and pushes it further out. The boy and a girl at the heart of her latest believe they have landed on earth from outer space. Raised by separate families, treated badly, they tack toward each other in this immensely charming, strange and heart-stomping tale. The imagination of this writer grows and grows like outer space. Earthlings should be one of the main fictional events of 2020.”—John Freeman, Literary Hub

“I loved this book! It easily converted me to being an alien. A radical, hilarious, heartbreaking look at the crap we have all internalized in order to fit in and survive.”—Elif Batuman, author of The Idiot

“When traveling in Japan, particularly with my Japanese family, I have felt as if trying to assert myself there was like trying to stand up in a raging river. It doesn’t care what you think. You are just carried along with it (and collateral damage is to be expected). But then, it’s not just Japanese culture, is it? We just notice it more when it’s not our home culture or if we’re an outsider to that river of norms. Murata brings all of that not-so-subtle pressure and our submerged feelings about it into our consciousness. I laughed, I was shocked, and I was of course carried away by this wonderful, thought provoking and wild book.”—Karen Maeda Allman, Elliott Bay Book Company (Seattle)

“From a young age, Natsuki has viewed the human inhabitants of Earth as factory machines—once they grow up, they’re all expected to do their part by reproducing to continue the endless cycle. She isn’t an Earthling, according to Piyyut, the sentient toy hedgehog sent to her from their home planet of Popinpobopia to watch over her. Natsuki’s childhood is a harsh one, shaped by neglect and abuse. As an adult, she and her husband cannot escape scrutiny from not conforming to Factory living. Earthlings conveys a wonderfully stark perspective on society’s expectations of what people are ‘supposed’ to do and be, while factoring in a more literal sense of alienation that makes this novel stand apart from the rest.”—Andrew King, University Book Store (Seattle)

“I inhaled this book in a matter of hours. In Convenience Store Woman, Murata introduced us to characters living on the fringe of society; with Earthlings, she’s moved onto characters who are outside of society altogether. Eleven-year-old Natsuki firmly believes her cousin is an alien. Which is fine, because she is, too, a fact that’s revealed to her by the toy hedgehog she bought at a supermarket. As an adult, Natsuki’s beliefs are tested as her family and friends insist she should hurry up and have children (or, as Natsuki puts it, give her womb over to the ‘baby factory’) like all good humans do. In turns moving and disturbing, Earthlings is unlike anything you’ve ever read.”—Devon Dunn, Book Culture (New York)

“From the author of 2018’s comic gem about a Japanese misfit, Convenience Store Woman, a new novel featuring a young woman who is convinced she is an alien.”—Guardian

“This is one that should be on everyone’s wish list.”Japan Times

“In 2020, we finally get our hands on Sayaka Murata’s newest novel . . . A new statement by Murata that finding your own freedom is a struggle against family and society which takes sacrifice.”Books and Bao

Praise for Convenience Store Woman:

“Keiko, a defiantly oddball 36-year-old woman, has worked in a dead-end job as a convenience store cashier in Tokyo for half her life. She lives alone and has never been in a romantic relationship, or even had sex. And she is perfectly happy with all of it . . . Written in plain-spoken prose, the slim volume focuses on a character who in many ways personifies a demographic panic in Japan.”—Motoko Rich, New York Times (profile)

“A small, elegant and deadpan novel . . . Casts a fluorescent spell . . . A thrifty and offbeat exploration of what we must each leave behind to participate in the world.”—Dwight Garner, New York Times

“Alienation gets deliciously perverse treatment in Convenience Store Woman . . . The book’s true brilliance lies in Murata’s way of subverting our expectations . . . With bracing good humor . . . Murata celebrate[s] the quiet heroism of women who accept the cost of being themselves.”—John Powers, NPR’s Fresh Air

“The novel borrows from Gothic romance, in its pairing of the human and the alluringly, dangerously not. It is a love story, in other words, about a misfit and a store . . . Keiko’s self-renunciations reveal the book to be a kind of grim post-capitalist reverie: she is an anti-Bartleby, abandoning any shred of identity outside of her work . . . Tranquil—dreamy, even—rooting for its employee-store romance from the bottom of its synthetic heart.”—Katy Waldman, New Yorker

“An exhilaratingly weird and funny Japanese novel about a long-term convenience store employee. Unsettling and totally unpredictable—my copy is now heavily underlined.”—Sally Rooney, Guardian

“As intoxicating as a sake mojito . . . A literary prize-winner that’s also a page-turner.”—John Powers, Vogue

“It’s the novel’s cumulative, idiosyncratic poetry that lingers, attaining a weird, fluorescent kind of beauty all of its own.”—Julie Myerson, Guardian

“Brilliant, witty, and sweet in ways that recall Amélie and Shopgirl . . . Murata’s sparkly writing and knack for odd, beautiful details are totally her own.”Vogue, “13 Books to Thrill, Entertain, and Sustain You This Summer”

“A quiet masterpiece . . . Seldom has a narrator been so true to a lack of self, and so triumphantly other.”—David Wright, Seattle Times

“A spare, quietly brilliant novel . . . Like being lulled into a soft calm.”—Arianna Rebolini, BuzzFeed

“This magical little book performs this neat accordion track in sentences so clean and crisp it’s like they were laminated and placed before you, one at a time, in a well-windex’d cooler . . . The 7-11 Madame Bovary.”—John Freeman, Literary Hub

“A personal favorite . . . The prose is as crisp as is the aesthetic of [Japan]”—Lauren Christensen, CBS This Morning

“Knock-you-off-your-feet good, sucking you wholesale into the strange brain of its narrator . . . Like being beamed down onto a foreign planet, which turns out to be your own . . . May we buy out bookstores’ stocks of Convenience Store Woman, and yell Sayaka Murata’s name from the rooftops.”—Alison Tate Lewis, Electric Literature

“A novel that proves sylphlike; spare in its contents, with a masterfully deceptive comic veneer that keeps the reader turning the page.”Zyzzyva

“Quirky, memorable.”Times (UK)

“Engaging . . . A sure-fire hit of the summer.”Irish Times

“Smart and sly . . . Moving, funny, and unsettling.”Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Dazzling.”Booklist (starred review)

“A unique and unexpectedly revealing English language debut.”Kirkus Reviews

“A gem of a book. Quirky, deadpan, poignant, and quietly profound, it is a gift to anyone who has ever felt at odds with the world—and if we were truly being honest, I suspect that would be most of us.”—Ruth Ozeki, author of A Tale for the Time Being

“What a weird and wonderful and deeply satisfying book this is. Sayaka Murata is an utterly unique and revolutionary voice. I tore through Convenience Store Woman with great delight.”—Jami Attenberg, New York Times bestselling author of The Middlesteins and All Grown Up

“A darkly comic, deeply unsettling examination of contemporary life, of alienation, of capitalism, of identity, of conformity. We’ve all been to this convenience store, whether it’s in Japan or somewhere else.”—Viet Thanh Nguyen, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Sympathizer

“This is a story about what’s normal and not, a drama played on a stage so violently plain it becomes as vivid and surprising as an alien planet. I loved Convenience Store Woman: its brevity, its details, its opinions about life.”—Robin Sloan, author of Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore

“I picked up this novel on a trip to Japan and couldn’t put it down. A haunting, dark, and often hilarious take on society’s expectations of the single woman. As an extra bonus, it totally transformed my experience of going to convenience stores in Tokyo.”—Elif Batuman, author of The Idiot

Convenience Store Woman is a mighty fine book, completely charming. Sayaka Murata is a wonderful writer.”—Rabih Alameddine, author of An Unnecessary Woman

“Instructions: Open book. Consume contents. Feel charmed, disturbed, and weirdly in love. Do not discard.”—Jade Chang, author of The Wangs Vs. the World

“Murata creates an original and surreal world in the most unlikely places. Furukura, the convenience store woman, is a strange, complex, gripping protagonist who inadvertently propels her own story forth through a series of subtle actions yet it is through these actions and also the spareness of the author’s prose that we see what a master Murata truly is. This book is not only readable, it is fun, thought provoking and at times outrageous and outrageously funny. It is sure to be a standout of the year.”—Weike Wang, author of Chemistry

“This novel made me laugh. It was the first time for me to laugh in this way: it was absurd, comical, cute . . . audacious, and precise. It was overwhelming.”—Hiromi Kawakami, author of The Nakano Thrift Shop