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Product Description

A literary sensation and runaway bestseller, this brilliant debut novel tells with seamless authenticity and exquisite lyricism the true confessions of one of Japan''s most celebrated geisha.

Nominated as one of America’s best-loved novels by PBS’s The Great American Read

Speaking to us with the wisdom of age and in a voice at once haunting and startlingly immediate, Nitta Sayuri tells the story of her life as a geisha. It begins in a poor fishing village in 1929, when, as a nine-year-old girl with unusual blue-gray eyes, she is taken from her home and sold into slavery to a renowned geisha house. We witness her transformation as she learns the rigorous arts of the geisha: dance and music; wearing kimono, elaborate makeup, and hair; pouring sake to reveal just a touch of inner wrist; competing with a jealous rival for men''s solicitude and the money that goes with it.

In Memoirs of a Geisha, we enter a world where appearances are paramount; where a girl''s virginity is auctioned to the highest bidder; where women are trained to beguile the most powerful men; and where love is scorned as illusion. It is a unique and triumphant work of fiction—at once romantic, erotic, suspenseful—and completely unforgettable.

Review

"Astonishing . . . breathtaking . . . You are seduced completely." —Washington Post Book World

"Captivating, minutely imagined . . . a novel that refuses to stay shut." —Newsweek

"A story with the social vibrancy and narrative sweep of a much-loved 19th century bildungsroman. . . . This is a high-wire act. . . . Rarely has a world so closed and foreign been evoked with such natural assurance." —The New Yorker

From the Inside Flap

A literary sensation and runaway bestseller, this brilliant debut novel tells with seamless authenticity and exquisite lyricism the true confessions of one of Japan''s most celebrated geisha.

Speaking to us with the wisdom of age and in a voice at once haunting and startlingly immediate, Nitta Sayuri tells the story of her life as a geisha. It begins in a poor fishing village in 1929, when, as a nine-year-old girl with unusual blue-gray eyes, she is taken from her home and sold into slavery to a renowned geisha house. We witness her transformation as she learns the rigorous arts of the geisha: dance and music; wearing kimono, elaborate makeup, and hair; pouring sake to reveal just a touch of inner wrist; competing with a jealous rival for men''s solicitude and the money that goes with it.

In Memoirs of a Geisha, we enter a world where appearances are paramount; where a girl''s virginity is auctioned to the highest bidder; where women are trained to beguile the most powerful men; and where love is scorned as illusion. It is a unique and triumphant work of fiction?at once romantic, erotic, suspenseful?and completely unforgettable.

From the Back Cover

A literary sensation and runaway bestseller, this brilliant debut novel tells with seamless authenticity and exquisite lyricism the true confessions of one of Japan''s most celebrated geisha.
Speaking to us with the wisdom of age and in a voice at once haunting and startlingly immediate, Nitta Sayuri tells the story of her life as a geisha. It begins in a poor fishing village in 1929, when, as a nine-year-old girl with unusual blue-gray eyes, she is taken from her home and sold into slavery to a renowned geisha house. We witness her transformation as she learns the rigorous arts of the geisha: dance and music; wearing kimono, elaborate makeup, and hair; pouring sake to reveal just a touch of inner wrist; competing with a jealous rival for men''s solicitude and the money that goes with it.
In Memoirs of a Geisha, we enter a world where appearances are paramount; where a girl''s virginity is auctioned to the highest bidder; where women are trained to beguile the most powerful men; and where love is scorned as illusion. It is a unique and triumphant work of fiction--at once romantic, erotic, suspenseful--and completely unforgettable.

About the Author

Arthur Golden was born in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and was educated at Harvard College, where he received a degree in art history, specializing in Japanese art. In 1980 he earned an M.A. in Japanese history from Columbia University, where he also learned Mandarin Chinese. Following a summer at Beijing University, he worked in Tokyo, and, after returning to the United States, earned an M.A. in English from Boston University. He resides in Brookline, Massachusetts, with his wife and two children.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Suppose that you and I were sitting in a quiet room overlooking a garden, chatting and sipping at our cups of green tea while we talked about something that had happened a long while ago, and I said to you, "That afternoon when I met so-and-so...was the very best afternoon of my life, and also the very worst afternoon." I expect you might put down your teacup and say, "Well, now, which was it? Was it the best or the worst? Because it can''t possibly have been both!" Ordinarily I''d have to laugh at myself and agree with you. But the truth is that the afternoon when I met Mr. Tanaka Ichiro really was the best and the worst of my life. He seemed so fascinating to me, even the fish smell on his hands was a kind of perfume. If I had never known him, I''m sure I would not have become a geisha.

I wasn''t born and raised to be a Kyoto geisha. I wasn''t even born in Kyoto. I''m a fisherman''s daughter from a little town called Yoroido on the Sea of Japan. In all my life I''ve never told more than a handful of people anything at all about Yoroido, or about the house in which I grew up, or about my mother and father, or my older sister--and certainly not about how I became a geisha, or what it was like to be one. Most people would much rather carry on with their fantasies that my mother and grandmother were geisha, and that I began my training in dance when I was weaned from the breast, and so on. As a matter of fact, one day many years ago I was pouring a cup of sake for a man who happened to mention that he had been in Yoroido only the previous week. Well, I felt as a bird must feel when it has flown across the ocean and comes upon a creature that knows its nest. I was so shocked I couldn''t stop myself from saying:

"Yoroido! Why, that''s where I grew up!"

This poor man! His face went through the most remarkable series of changes. He tried his best to smile, though it didn''t come out well because he couldn''t get the look of shock off his face.

"Yoroido?" he said. "You can''t mean it."

I long ago developed a very practiced smile, which I call my "Noh smile" because it resembles a Noh mask whose features are frozen. Its advantage is that men can interpret it however they want; you can imagine how often I''ve relied on it. I decided I''d better use it just then, and of course it worked. He let out all his breath and tossed down the cup of sake I''d poured for him before giving an enormous laugh I''m sure was prompted more by relief than anything else.

"The very idea!" he said, with another big laugh. "You, growing up in a dump like Yoroido. That''s like making tea in a bucket!" And when he''d laughed again, he said to me, "That''s why you''re so much fun, Sayuri-san. Sometimes you almost make me believe your little jokes are real."

I don''t much like thinking of myself as a cup of tea made in a bucket, but I suppose in a way it must be true. After all, I did grow up in Yoroido, and no one would suggest it''s a glamorous spot. Hardly anyone ever visits it. As for the people who live there, they never have occasion to leave. You''re probably wondering how I came to leave it myself. That''s where my story begins.

In our little fishing village of Yoroido, I lived in what I called a "tipsy house." It stood near a cliff where the wind off the ocean was always blowing. As a child it seemed to me as if the ocean had caught a terrible cold, because it was always wheezing and there would be spells when it let out a huge sneeze--which is to say there was a burst of wind with a tremendous spray. I decided our tiny house must have been offended by the ocean sneezing in its face from time to time, and took to leaning back because it wanted to get out of the way. Probably it would have collapsed if my father hadn''t cut a timber from a wrecked fishing boat to prop up the eaves, which made the house look like a tipsy old man leaning on his crutch.

Inside this tipsy house I lived something of a lopsided life. Because from my earliest years I was very much like my mother, and hardly at all like my father or older sister. My mother said it was because we were made just the same, she and I--and it was true--we both had the same peculiar eyes of a sort you almost never see in Japan. Instead of being dark brown like everyone else''s, my mother''s eyes were a translucent gray, and mine are just the same. When I was very young, I told my mother I thought someone had poked a hole in her eyes and all the ink had drained out, which she thought very funny. The fortune-tellers said her eyes were so pale because of too much water in her personality, so much that the other four elements were hardly present at all--and this, they explained, was why her features matched so poorly. People in the village often said she ought to have been extremely attractive, because her parents had been. Well, a peach has a lovely taste and so does a mushroom, but you can''t put the two together; this was the terrible trick nature had played on her. She had her mother''s pouty mouth but her father''s angular jaw, which gave the impression of a delicate picture with much too heavy a frame. And her lovely gray eyes were surrounded by thick lashes that must have been striking on her father, but in her case only made her look startled.

My mother always said she''d married my father because she had too much water in her personality and he had too much wood in his. People who knew my father understood right away what she was talking about. Water flows from place to place quickly and always finds a crack to spill through. Wood, on the other hand, holds fast to the earth. In my father''s case this was a good thing, for he was a fisherman, and a man with wood in his personality is at ease on the sea. In fact, my father was more at ease on the sea than anywhere else, and never left it far behind him. He smelled like the sea even after he had bathed. When he wasn''t fishing, he sat on the floor in our dark front room mending a fishing net. And if a fishing net had been a sleeping creature, he wouldn''t even have awakened it, at the speed he worked. He did everything this slowly. Even when he summoned a look of concentration, you could run outside and drain the bath in the time it took him to rearrange his features. His face was very heavily creased, and into each crease he had tucked some worry or other, so that it wasn''t really his own face any longer, but more like a tree that had nests of birds in all the branches. He had to struggle constantly to manage it and always looked worn out from the effort.

When I was six or seven, I learned something about my father I''d never known. One day I asked him, "Daddy, why are you so old?" He hoisted up his eyebrows at this, so that they formed little sagging umbrellas over his eyes. And he let out a long breath, and shook his head and said, "I don''t know." When I turned to my mother, she gave me a look meaning she would answer the question for me another time. The following day without saying a word, she walked me down the hill toward the village and turned at a path into a graveyard in the woods. She led me to three graves in the corner, with three white marker posts much taller than I was. They had stern-looking black characters written top to bottom on them, but I hadn''t attended the school in our little village long enough to know where one ended and the next began. My mother pointed to them and said, "Natsu, wife of Sakamoto Minoru." Sakamoto Minoru was the name of my father. "Died age twenty-four, in the nineteenth year of Meiji." Then she pointed to the next one: "Jinichiro, son of Sakamoto Minoru, died age six, in the nineteenth year of Meiji," and to the next one, which was identical except for the name, Masao, and the age, which was three. It took me a while to understand that my father had been married before, a long time ago, and that his whole family had died. I went back to those graves not long afterward and found as I stood there that sadness was a very heavy thing. My body weighed twice what it had only a moment earlier, as if those graves were pulling me down toward them.

With all this water and all this wood, the two of them ought to have made a good balance and produced children with the proper arrangement of elements. I''m sure it was a surprise to them that they ended up with one of each. For it wasn''t just that I resembled my mother and had even inherited her unusual eyes; my sister, Satsu, was as much like my father as anyone could be. Satsu was six years older than me, and of course, being older, she could do things I couldn''t do. But Satsu had a remarkable quality of doing everything in a way that seemed like a complete accident. For example, if you asked her to pour a bowl of soup from a pot on the stove, she would get the job done, but in a way that looked like she''d spilled it into the bowl just by luck. One time she even cut herself with a fish, and I don''t mean with a knife she was using to clean a fish. She was carrying a fish wrapped in paper up the hill from the village when it slid out and fell against her leg in such a way as to cut her with one of its fins.

Our parents might have had other children besides Satsu and me, particularly since my father hoped for a boy to fish with him. But when I was seven my mother grew terribly ill with what was probably bone cancer, though at the time I had no idea what was wrong. Her only escape from discomfort was to sleep, which she began to do the way a cat does--which is to say, more or less constantly. As the months passed she slept most of the time, and soon began to groan whenever she was awake. I knew something in her was changing quickly, but because of so much water in her personality, this didn''t seem worrisome to me. Sometimes she grew thin in a matter of months but grew strong again just as quickly. But by the time I was nine, the bones in her face had begun to protrude, and she never gained weight again afterward. I didn''t realize the water was draining out of her because of her illness. Just as seaweed is naturally soggy, you see, but turns brittle as it dries, my mother was giving up more and more of her essence.

Then one afternoon I was sitting on the pitted floor of our dark front room, singing to a cricket I''d found that morning, when a voice called out at the door:

"Oi! Open up! It''s Dr. Miura!"

Dr. Miura came to our fishing village once a week, and had made a point of walking up the hill to check on my mother ever since her illness had begun. My father was at home that day because a terrible storm was coming. He sat in his usual spot on the floor, with his two big spiderlike hands tangled up in a fishing net. But he took a moment to point his eyes at me and raise one of his fingers. This meant he wanted me to answer the door.
Dr. Miura was a very important man--or so we believed in our village. He had studied in Tokyo and reportedly knew more Chinese characters than anyone. He was far too proud to notice a creature like me. When I opened the door for him, he slipped out of his shoes and stepped right past me into the house.

"Why, Sakamoto-san," he said to my father, "I wish I had your life, out on the sea fishing all day. How glorious! And then on rough days you take a rest. I see your wife is still asleep," he went on. "What a pity. I thought I might examine her."

"Oh?" said my father.

"I won''t be around next week, you know. Perhaps you might wake her for me?"

My father took a while to untangle his hands from the net, but at last he stood.

"Chiyo-chan," he said to me, "get the doctor a cup of tea."

My name back then was Chiyo. I wouldn''t be known by my geisha name, Sayuri, until years later.

My father and the doctor went into the other room, where my mother lay sleeping. I tried to listen at the door, but I could hear only my mother groaning, and nothing of what they said. I occupied myself with making tea, and soon the doctor came back out rubbing his hands together and looking very stern. My father came to join him, and they sat together at the table in the center of the room.

"The time has come to say something to you, Sakamoto-san," Dr. Miura began. "You need to have a talk with one of the women in the village. Mrs. Sugi, perhaps. Ask her to make a nice new robe for your wife."

"I haven''t the money, Doctor," my father said.

"We''ve all grown poorer lately. I understand what you''re saying. But you owe it to your wife. She shouldn''t die in that tattered robe she''s wearing."

"So she''s going to die soon?"

"A few more weeks, perhaps. She''s in terrible pain. Death will release her."

After this, I couldn''t hear their voices any longer; for in my ears I heard a sound like a bird''s wings flapping in panic. Perhaps it was my heart, I don''t know. But if you''ve ever seen a bird trapped inside the great hall of a temple, looking for some way out, well, that was how my mind was reacting. It had never occurred to me that my mother wouldn''t simply go on being sick. I won''t say I''d never wondered what might happen if she should die; I did wonder about it, in the same way I wondered what might happen if our house were swallowed up in an earthquake. There could hardly be life after such an event.

"I thought I would die first," my father was saying.

"You''re an old man, Sakamoto-san. But your health is good. You might have four or five years. I''ll leave you some more of those pills for your wife. You can give them to her two at a time, if you need to."

They talked about the pills a bit longer, and then Dr. Miura left. My father went on sitting for a long while in silence, with his back to me. He wore no shirt but only his loose-fitting skin; the more I looked at him, the more he began to seem like just a curious collection of shapes and textures. His spine was a path of knobs. His head, with its discolored splotches, might have been a bruised fruit. His arms were sticks wrapped in old leather, dangling from two bumps. If my mother died, how could I go on living in the house with him? I didn''t want to be away from him; but whether he was there or not, the house would be just as empty when my mother had left it.

At last my father said my name in a whisper. I went and knelt beside him.

"Something very important," he said.

His face was so much heavier than usual, with his eyes rolling around almost as though he''d lost control of them. I thought he was struggling to tell me my mother would die soon, but all he said was:

"Go down to the village. Bring back some incense for the altar."

Our tiny Buddhist altar rested on an old crate beside the entrance to the kitchen; it was the only thing of value in our tipsy house. In front of a rough carving of Amida, the Buddha of the Western Paradise, stood tiny black mortuary tablets bearing the Buddhist names of our dead ancestors.

"But, Father...wasn''t there anything else?"

I hoped he would reply, but he only made a gesture with his hand that meant for me to leave.

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4.7 out of 54.7 out of 5
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Top reviews from the United States

J. Spotted Eagle Horse
2.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Reads like what it is, a mediocre novel about a geisha written by a culture vulture
Reviewed in the United States on January 9, 2020
To be fair, this is a work of fiction, and should be treated as such. However. This book was written by a white, western male who tries to pass himself off as a Japanese woman, and it shows. Reading this book left me with the impression that the author has yet to... See more
To be fair, this is a work of fiction, and should be treated as such.
However. This book was written by a white, western male who tries to pass himself off as a Japanese woman, and it shows.
Reading this book left me with the impression that the author has yet to meet a bad alliteration, metaphor and/or trope that he cannot use and abuse in some way, a philosophy that he should seriously reconsider. The book is full of them, which makes it a hard read.
There are several flaws inherent in the book, starting with his overly done portrayal of the villain Hatsumomo, you never quite understand why she hates Sayuri so much, or why she is such a bitch. Some small redeeming quality would have added much to both Hatsumomo and the book!
Mameha is flat and one dimensional, as is the Chairman. Nobu-san, the anti-hero was the only one who had a flicker of personality, which was quickly snuffed out by bad writing. Pumpkin, Mother, and Auntie may as well have been written out, as he does little to develop them,despite them being an important part or Sayuri''s life.
There are many, many inaccuracies about Geisha culture as a whole, and geisha in particular in the book and instead of making some effort to address them, the author chooses to repeat them, ad nauseum.
If you can overlook all of the negatives, it isn''t an absolutely terrible read. But, it will never be one of my favorites.
For me, the whole thing was stale and flat while the the author comes across as an arrogant, sexually obsessed dilettante. It''s hard to believe that he has degrees in Japanese culture, as he acts more like a stereotypical westerner and a culture vulture.
The fact that he quickly and publicly sold out one of his sources (for which he was sued) does him no favors as a person. The only reason he got as much press as he did was because he used his family connections with the publishers of the Times.
If you want a GOOD, WELL WRITTEN, AND ACCURATE book on Geisha and Geisha culture, stay away from this culture vulture and read Liza Dalby or Mineko Iwasaki, or pretty much any other writer but this one.
81 people found this helpful
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Pezerry
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
My favorite book!
Reviewed in the United States on October 5, 2016
No, really, it is. I will read this book nearly every year for the rest of my life. The story of Saiyuri is a very detailed one, and how she came to be a geisha. The (fictional) biographical novel of a geisha is definitely a wonderful read. I love all things Japanese,... See more
No, really, it is. I will read this book nearly every year for the rest of my life.
The story of Saiyuri is a very detailed one, and how she came to be a geisha. The (fictional) biographical novel of a geisha is definitely a wonderful read. I love all things Japanese, and this book is a great insight into the world, as it is well researched and well written. In some places it is like a story, and in others it is like reading an encyclopedia of Japanese culture, and the two mix so well together that it is almost unnoticeable. The characters are believable, and each ones follows their path in life and you know where most of them land. That is definitely good story-telling.
Moreover, the book is also going to draw you into a life story you will want to know about, even if you saw the movie first (like me). believe me, the movie has nothing on the book. It only gives you a visual for what the world looks like. The true depth of the book is much deeper, stronger and more drawn out in a way that the reader will find most enjoyable.
59 people found this helpful
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Hyytekk
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Poetic but oddly disturbing
Reviewed in the United States on October 29, 2017
When this was published a decade ago, it sounded like an account I wouldn''t find compelling. But as a fan of historical fiction, and an admirer of many Asian cultures I decided to wade into the book after hearing how it appealed to both genders, though strangely it was... See more
When this was published a decade ago, it sounded like an account I wouldn''t find compelling. But as a fan of historical fiction, and an admirer of many Asian cultures I decided to wade into the book after hearing how it appealed to both genders, though strangely it was written by a male who was also not Japanese. It is written in a very soft motif with gentle mental imagery. But it also detailed a belief system that was reality but no less perverse in marginalizing women and condoning extreme selfishness, unfaithfulness in marital vows, and an assumed right of wealthy males to pander and drink in youth and beauty though often having little to contribute but money. Men like the minister who was appointed to a key government position but had no hint of personality or clever intellect and is portrayed as crude as a box of hammers, yet was able to be entertained by attractive young women who poured his saki, pretended to find his company enjoyable and even led him to the bathroom whether to relieve himself or to vomit onto the garden from over drinking. Perhaps all cultures have variations of this geisha system, especially "Dana''s" who are presently called sugar daddys in contemporary parlance. The characters and portrayed system is a microcosm of the self serving and even crude brutality germaine to flawed humanity, but framed in artificial elegance and dressed is silk kimonos to dignify and justify it. Highly recommended, filled with picturesque life lessons in human nature, dreams of youth colored by naivety, manipulation and bullying to jockey for position, as well as reminding of the temporary nature of all things, but especially of youth, beauty, strength and position.
23 people found this helpful
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Jess
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
A Classic
Reviewed in the United States on March 8, 2017
Unfortunately, I admit I haven''t read this book in twenty or so years and I imagined it reading the same. I couldn''t have been more wrong! It''s so much more heartbreaking, intriguing and entertaining than when I was younger. There was so much I thought I understood back... See more
Unfortunately, I admit I haven''t read this book in twenty or so years and I imagined it reading the same. I couldn''t have been more wrong! It''s so much more heartbreaking, intriguing and entertaining than when I was younger. There was so much I thought I understood back then that now I appreciate.
37 people found this helpful
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KarenWby
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Absolutely wondrous
Reviewed in the United States on February 27, 2017
Recently I watched the movie again, and then read about it, and was intrigued to read a man had written it AND it was his first book. So of course I had to Edward the book. It was even better than the movie. Interesting to me that the geishas voice changed, matured, even as... See more
Recently I watched the movie again, and then read about it, and was intrigued to read a man had written it AND it was his first book. So of course I had to Edward the book. It was even better than the movie. Interesting to me that the geishas voice changed, matured, even as she added years to her life. I was richly blessed by the reading of this book. Thank you, Mr. Golden, for writing it.
24 people found this helpful
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Kanchana Bandara
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
An Immersive Experience
Reviewed in the United States on January 20, 2018
This was the first book selected by the book club I was invited to join at the start of the year. From the first page I was hooked on the beautiful evocative descriptions of people, places and situations. The story is essential the life story of a little girl from a poor... See more
This was the first book selected by the book club I was invited to join at the start of the year. From the first page I was hooked on the beautiful evocative descriptions of people, places and situations. The story is essential the life story of a little girl from a poor fishing village in Japan who finds herself taken to the Trisha district known as Gion , where she overcomes loss of family and the loss of the life of her childhood, and learns the art of being a geisha. We hear the story from Sayuri at the age of 80 years or so, remembering her life and how she came to be where she is today.
As I said the descriptions alone are enough to make this a worthwhile read. But the story itself is also full of schemes and intrigue, and shadowy unknown benefactors that influence the course of the protagonist''s life with small actions that have tremendous impact. It is also a story of true love, as well as a story about the strength and struggles of women in Japan . It allows the reader to become part of a different culture and way of being...and of appreciating that the two layers of Japanese culture: the surface story as illustrated by the beauty and grace of the geishas versus the broken, harsh, and grimy circumstances that produce the geishas. All of this combines to give a thoroughly absorbing reading experience that leaves one feeling a little richer inside for having completed the book.
It was a great book to start off my year and I would recommend it to anyone interested in appreciating gender and culture issues from a different perspective., and to any reader who appreciates a well written tale.
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Andrei
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
A book lyrically written by a foreigner
Reviewed in the United States on June 19, 2021
It is certain that, over time, human beings have been busy repudiating and denying what is strange according to their own moral and cultural conventions. It is noticeable evidence when we analyze reports, articles, and more studies on various civilizations. It happened from... See more
It is certain that, over time, human beings have been busy repudiating and denying what is strange according to their own moral and cultural conventions. It is noticeable evidence when we analyze reports, articles, and more studies on various civilizations. It happened from where the observation starts, the feeling of strangeness occurs similarly.
According to Roque de Barros Laraia, whose work I had the opportunity to read in law school and reread last year, ethnocentric behavior can also result in absurd and morally unacceptable cultural depreciation. It is natural for the human being - which does not mean that it is justifiable - to analyze the other from the navel''s perspective. There are plenty of examples in this regard: xenophobia, racism, homophobia, misogyny, and many other -isms.
When this book and the film were released, there was a lot of controversy surrounding the Western imagination about Eastern culture as both productions supposedly embodied the stereotype of the perfect woman, an elegantly submissive work of art that moves and exists to make men feel important. Many standardizes pointed out at the time that such an approach was irresponsible and market-oriented, placing Asian culture under the ritualized cloak of the mysterious, exotic, and erotic.
Controversies aside, the book brings an intelligent narrative that addresses a dispute for the title of the most beloved geisha and more socioeconomic advantages. It is important to remember that the book takes place in 1930 in the post-depression period when the world faced one of its most profound crises. It was common in Japan to sell mizuage (virginity) and get a generous Danna (exclusive customer). In this book, we have a duel between two powerful geishas: Mameha (curator of the young protagonist Sayuri) and Hatsumomo (the antagonist to be defeated).
The reading is fluid and full of emotion, making it difficult not to be moved by the author''s refined writing about the young Sayuri who stars in the work. Sold by her parents as a slave in the poor village where she lived, Sayuri worked from an early age, and she studied to become a geisha in another city under the strict rules of the landlady who bought her. The movie undisclosed our hero living in peace in the United States, from where she fondly remembers her trajectory and a life together with the great love of her life.
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Marcel Dupasquier
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
When in Japan...
Reviewed in the United States on December 31, 2020
This book contains a story that can be split into three parts. The first part is the story of young Chiyo, who is sold with her sister when their mother is too ill to care for them. Coming from a small fishing village, they are sent to Kyoto. Whereas Chiyo is seen with... See more
This book contains a story that can be split into three parts. The first part is the story of young Chiyo, who is sold with her sister when their mother is too ill to care for them. Coming from a small fishing village, they are sent to Kyoto. Whereas Chiyo is seen with potential and educated as geisha, her sister is directly sold into prostitution. This part was really touching for me and made me think about the situation in my home country, where around the same time, children might also, if not sold, then at least be send to farmers, who had not enough children of their own to help them on their farms. Often, these children would be treated much worse than their own children. Both my grandfathers had to endure such a fate and one of them consequently never ate cheese, as this was all he was given to eat while there.

The second part is then Chiyo’s education to be become a geisha. In order to do so, she has to get around Hashumomo, the senior geisha in her okiya. This has to be done with cunning and the way how Mameha can plot around the “evil stepsister” Hashumomo is like a heist story. This part is written humorously, but here, I could also understand why Japanese people will feel insulted by this book. On the one hand, the book says that geisha are no prostitutes, but then it goes on saying that the highest goal a geisha can achieve is a danna.

The third part is then a cheesy love story, until Sayuri can finally be together with the man of her dreams. The conclusion of the story was so constructed that it made me happy when it was finally over. Nevertheless, this is an interesting read that I could finish within a week.
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Kay
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
One of my favourite books ever.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on August 27, 2016
One of my favourite books ever. I''m always so jealous of people who are just reading it for the first time. It''s not a book that I''d normally choose, but I joined a book club, so was forced to, but I''m so glad I did. It''s not often that I find a book that I ''can''t put...See more
One of my favourite books ever. I''m always so jealous of people who are just reading it for the first time. It''s not a book that I''d normally choose, but I joined a book club, so was forced to, but I''m so glad I did. It''s not often that I find a book that I ''can''t put down'', but I literally couldn''t. I''d still be reading it at about 3am, falling asleep over my kindle! The writing is just exceptional too, it''s written in a way that made me completely shocked that it wasn''t a true story. Before I found out it wasn''t a true story, I was googling things from the book to find out more about them, only to find that they weren''t real! I never read a book more than once, but if I did, I would read this one.
19 people found this helpful
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D. O'Reilly
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Now I understand...
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on July 3, 2019
Have just finished this book, having read it years after it was first published. When it came out it appeared everyone was reading it, now I understand why. It''s a compelling story, and very character rich. It speaks of a bygone era and a bygone mindset. I have always been...See more
Have just finished this book, having read it years after it was first published. When it came out it appeared everyone was reading it, now I understand why. It''s a compelling story, and very character rich. It speaks of a bygone era and a bygone mindset. I have always been interested in Japanese culture, so I felt sure this book would appeal. It''s a tale of someone turning their life round from the most inauspicious of beginnings, as well as understanding how they arrived at contentment. An undulating story with great characters, told with great compassion and empathy, too.
5 people found this helpful
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Mark
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
A Perfect Novel
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on March 13, 2017
Memoirs Of A Geisha has always been among my favourite novels. It''s a sweeping, romantic epic with richly drawn, believable characters and a hugely satisyfying narrative arc. It''s a novel which, once read, will stay with you forever - so vivid is the writing and...See more
Memoirs Of A Geisha has always been among my favourite novels. It''s a sweeping, romantic epic with richly drawn, believable characters and a hugely satisyfying narrative arc. It''s a novel which, once read, will stay with you forever - so vivid is the writing and characterisation. A must read.
6 people found this helpful
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wibblypig
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Beautiful
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on May 30, 2014
This is one of the most beautiful books I have ever read. I have read it countless times and sometimes I love to just let the pages open where they fall and lose myself in the world within. It is right up my street and the way it reads is poetic (in my opinion) I find the...See more
This is one of the most beautiful books I have ever read. I have read it countless times and sometimes I love to just let the pages open where they fall and lose myself in the world within. It is right up my street and the way it reads is poetic (in my opinion) I find the story gripping and I can lose myself in it within a moment. I find this book like a hot cup of tea on a cold night, It wraps me up in warmth and beauty as soon as I begin to read. This has been my absolute favorite book for many many years, and I have bought it in hard copy several times, and lent it on, never to have it returned, but I would feel my library was lacking without it. I hope you find it as perfect as I do.
6 people found this helpful
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Starbuck
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
A Wonderful Book
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on February 19, 2021
I am reading BBC 100 books and wasn''t looking forward to this one but was pleasantly suprised by a beautifully written and emotive journey through the book. I found the end of the book a bit confusing about whether it was based on real events or not but all them same a...See more
I am reading BBC 100 books and wasn''t looking forward to this one but was pleasantly suprised by a beautifully written and emotive journey through the book. I found the end of the book a bit confusing about whether it was based on real events or not but all them same a great book.
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