Zur Repräsentation von Autismus in Konbini ningen (2016) von MURATA Sayaka: Relektüre aus Perspektive der Disability Studies

  • Carolin Fleischer-Heininger (Autor/in)

Identifier (Artikel)


Konbini ningen コンビニ人間 (Convenience Store Woman), published in 2016 by MURATA Sayaka 村田沙耶香 (b. 1979) is probably the best-known work of Heisei-era literature. Translated into many languages, it is receiving intensive reception in Japan as well as internationally and is the subject of scholarly debates. It is characterized by several attributes considered to be characteristic of the highly heterogeneous Japanese literature of that era, and at the same time, it can be utilized by and is informative for a variety of different perspectives and theoretical approaches. The protagonist of this work, Furukura Keiko, exhibits conspicuous features that, beyond a supposed norm deviating thinking and perception, can be read as signs of autism and thus of a psychological disability.
Drawing on an overview of the author, the novel, and definitional and basic considerations about autism in the context of literary studies, I analyze in close reading three aspects that are pivotal to the negotiation of autism in Konbini ningen, borrowing from literary and cultural disability studies. By focusing on the protagonist, her thought patterns, and her interpersonal relations, I discuss how these can be appreciated in light of contemporary socio-cultural debates and phenomena as well as recent developments in the understanding and representation of psychological disabilities in Japan. Throughout, I follow the assumption that ambiguity as a narrative strategy not only decisively shapes the novel and contributes significantly to its great success, but can also act in the sense of representing neurodivergence and especially people on the autism spectrum.


Akademisches Fachgebiet und Untergebiete
Japanologie, Japanische Literatur
Forschungsansatz, -methode oder -verfahren
Konbini ningen, Murata Sayaka, disability studies, Autismus