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.
A part of the 50 Reader Store Essentials list.
- New York Times Notable Books of the Year
Showing 1-4 of the 4 most recent reviews
1 . Brilliant
Posted March 14, 2010 by Meagan , Shalimar, FLThis is one of my all time favorite books - I have read and re-read it more times than I can remember.
One review bashes this book because it is not true to life - I say that this is an exquisitely crafted piece of fiction and never once read this thinking it was an accurate account of anything, let alone the life of a geisha. If you are looking for non-fiction diaries of true life events, read Anne Frank. If you are looking for a book that will touch your soul, read this.
2 . Honestly, my favorite book of all times
Posted January 18, 2010 by Jamie , Tacoma, WAThis is my favorite book of all times. I have read it numerous times and will continue to do so.
The story is so detailed that you'd think you were there! The characters are wonderfully developed and the story line keeps you interested from beginning to end. I don't know if this was a true depiction of the actual life of a Geisha but with the story that is spun - I honeslty don't care.
3 . Try A Good Book
Posted January 30, 2009 by Melissa , Tokyo, JapanThis is a completely inaccurate depiction of geisha and what they do. Try "Geisha, A Life" (printed as "A Geisha of Gion" in England) if you want to know what geisha are actually about. This book is an atrocity and there is a reason he was SUED by the geiko he based this story off of (he settled out of court).
4 . So much better than the movie.
Posted January 10, 2009 by C Helm , OhioAn inside look behind an ancient, secret silk curtain.
December 31, 1996
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Excerpt from Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden
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."