Memoirs of a Geisha book. Read reviews from the world's largest community for readers. A literary sensation and runaway bestseller, this brilliant. Also living in the okiya is the famous and ill-mannered geisha, Hatsumomo (初桃) , renowned for her wickedness and dazzling. 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.
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A literary sensation and runaway bestseller, this brilliant debut novel tells with seamless authenticity and exquisite lyricism the true confessions of. The life of a famous Kyoto geisha--from her painful apprenticeship in the early s through the years of her prime and her later career in Manhattan--is. Magically, though, in Golden's first novel, Memoirs of a Geisha, he actually becomes the first-person voice of Sayuri, and in the process manages to strip away.
Top secret documents in our briefcase—we're not telling. But there's a job somewhere in the world that takes hours to get dressed for.
It's a job for women only. They have to put a thick layer of makeup on their faces and their necks. They wrap themselves in designer garments that cost a year's worth of pay. And their hairstyles are so intricate they have to sleep on special pillows so as not to mess them up. No, this isn't Jersey Shore circa , this is the life of a geisha.
Memoirs of a Geisha unveils the secret rituals of the geisha for all to see, and none of it involves gym, tan, or laundry. A geisha is a female Japanese entertainer who works in teahouses across Japan.
She pours tea. She dances. She plays guitar. And she does, um, other things to entertain her male clientele. She's a part hostess, part musician, part dancer, and sometimes part prostitute. She has an entourage of dressers, hairstylists, and maids to help her out, making some geisha into major divas.
Memoirs is the story of a young girl named Chiyo, who grows up to become one of the most famous geisha of all time: Nitta Sayuri. Along the way, she tangles with rival geisha and must entertain a variety of men on varying levels of the creep-o-meter.
However, the book wasn't written by an actual geisha.
It was written by a white man named Arthur Golden. He interviewed former real-life geisha Mineko Iwasaki, and she took him behind the shoji screen to reveal all the intimate details of a geisha's life—how they do their makeup, how they style their hair, and why they tie their kimono from behind. Geisha culture has roots in the 18th century and still exists today. But as World War II erupts and the geisha houses are forced to close, Sayuri, with little money and even less food, must reinvent herself all over again to find a rare kind of freedom on her own terms.
And though the story is rich with detail and a vast knowledge of history, it is the transparent, seductive voice of Sayuri that the reader remembers. Other books in this series. American Psycho Bret Easton Ellis. Add to basket.
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Flap copy 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 , 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: Get A Copy. Mass Market Paperback , pages. More Details Original Title. Nitta Sayuri , Mr. Bekku , Mr. Tanaka Ichiro , Dr. Crab , Hatsumoto Kyoto , Japan. Other Editions Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about Memoirs of a Geisha , please sign up. Didnt knew Geishas still existed in the 20th century: Orinoco Womble tidy bag and all "Geisha" and "prostitute" are not the same thing.
There are still geisha who are what the original word means: A real geisha's job is to act as a hostess in the true sense of the word, by providing conversation, serving food and drink etc at formal dinners, or accompanying a guest to observe the beauties of nature such as cherry blossoms, autumn colours etc--often with a picnic included, at which the geisha will serve the food or treats.
They are paid for this service, but sex is not a given part of the service offered. There are indeed prostitutes in Japan, as there are in every other country in the world except maybe Antarctica , but the terms are not interchangeable. See all 52 questions about Memoirs of a Geisha…. Lists with This Book. Community Reviews. Showing Rating details. More filters. Sort order. Mar 26, Juushika rated it it was ok. Memoirs of a Geisha is an American novel, and as such the attempt at West does East, especially on the complex and delicate subject of the geisha, is compelling, interesting, but also heavy-handed and ultimately ineffective even more so in the case of the film.
It is a wonderful introduction to geisha, Japanese culture, and the East for the uninitiated Western reader, and I can see why the book is popular, but I found it disappointing. For the reader already familiar with the culture, western Memoirs of a Geisha is an American novel, and as such the attempt at West does East, especially on the complex and delicate subject of the geisha, is compelling, interesting, but also heavy-handed and ultimately ineffective even more so in the case of the film.
For the reader already familiar with the culture, western influences are all too clear and the book comes off as a bit clunky and imperfect. I also had some problems with the general perception of the characters by readers versus the way the characters were actually portrayed in the book--Memoirs is far from the good-willed fairy tale that people assume it is. By all means, read it, but leave it open for critique and remember that a more authentic representation of eastern culture, especially in the details, will come from the east itself.
A lot of my critique stems from the fact that this movie has attained such wide-spread fame and been made into a movie, to be sure.
I feel like it is being perpetuated as something it is not. Even the introduction to the book a faux translator's note perpetuates the myth that Memoirs is an accurate, beautiful, in-depth reflection of the life of a geisha, when in truth it is no more that historical fiction and is written by an outsider.
Golden has done his research and is well-educated on his subjects, and I have no problem with people reading from, taking interest in, and even learning from this book; I do, however, think it is important that readers don't conflate the American novel with Japanese reality. They aren't the same thing, no matter how much research Golden did, and if we take the book as an accurate representation we're actually underestimating and undervaluing geisha, Japan, and Japanese culture.
Because Golden attempts to write from within the geisha culture, as a Japanese woman, he must do more than report the "facts" of that life--he must also pretend to be a part of it. Pretend he does, acting out a role as if he has studied inflection, script, and motivation. He certainly knows what makes writing "Japanese" but his attempt to mimic it is not entirely successful.
The emphasis on elements, the independent sentences, the visual details are too prevalent and too obvious, as if Golden is trying to call our attention to them and thus to the Japanese style of the text. He does manage to draw attention, but to me, at least, what I came away with was the sense that Golden was an American trying really hard to sound Japanese--that is, the effect betrayed the attempt and the obvious attempt ruined the sincerity of the novel, for me.
I felt like I was being smacked over the head with beauty! The problems that I saw in the text were certainly secondary to the purpose of the text: They may not be obvious to all readers and they aren't so sever that the book isn't worth reading.
I just think readers need to keep in mind that what Golden writes is fiction. Historical fiction, yes, but still fiction, therefore we should look for a true representation of Japanese culture within Japanese culture itself and take Memoirs with a grain of salt. I also had problems with the rushed end of the book, the belief that Sayuri is a honest, good, modest, generous person when she really acts for herself and at harm to others throughout much of the book, the perpetuation of Hatsumomo as unjustified and cruel when she has all the reason in the world, and in general the public belief that Memoirs is some sort of fairy tale when in fact it is heavy-handed, biased, and takes a biased or unrelatistic view toward situations, characters, and love.
However, all of those complains are secondary, in my view, to the major complain above, and should be come obvious to the reader. Memoirs goes quickly, is compelling, and makes a good read, and I don't want to sound too unreasonably harsh on it. However, I believe the book has a lot of faults that aren't widely acknowledged and I think we as readers need to keep them in mind. This is an imperfect Western book, and while it may be a fun or good book it is not Japanese, authentic, or entirely well done.
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Like eating fancy dessert at a gourmet restaurant, Memoirs of a Geisha is beautiful, melts lightly off the tongue and will be forgotten shortly after it's done. The language is strikingly lovely, and Golden paints a remarkable picture of a time and place.
If you're looking to learn something deep about the psychology of Japanese culture, or meet nuanced characters, then I'd steer you elsewhere.
The story only skims the top of the more complicated aspects of a Japan in decline, focusing mostly on Like eating fancy dessert at a gourmet restaurant, Memoirs of a Geisha is beautiful, melts lightly off the tongue and will be forgotten shortly after it's done. The story only skims the top of the more complicated aspects of a Japan in decline, focusing mostly on a genteel lifestyle that probably seems more appealing from the outside. There's a way in which the book, written by a man and a westerner, is slightly fetishistic, but less so than you might imagine.
Another reader suggested that perhaps the superficiality of the story is intentional, and that the book, in a way, resembles a geisha. Beautiful and eager to please, yet too distant to really learn much from and ultimately little more than a beautiful, well-crafted object to be appreciated. If that's the case, Arthur Golden is remarkably clever, and I applaud him.
If it's not the case, the book remains very pretty and an easy read. View all 16 comments. Chiyo, with her sister Satsu, and her mother and father live in a shack by the sea on the coast of Japan. The shack leans, and has to be propped up to keep from total collapse. Her mother is sick and on the verge of death. He was wrong. Or was he? Without a crystal ball or access to a series of timelines showing the variations created by changing key decisions at critical junctures how can we know?
Satsu, who is fifteen, is promptly placed with a brothel. Not exactly what her father had in mind. Chiyo, who is nine, is deemed young enough to be trained to be a geisha.
Those Blue Eyes are what set her apart. The Mother of her geisha house is equally startling in appearance. They were rimmed with the raw lip of her lids, in which a cloudy moisture was pooled, and all around them the skin was sagging.
The colors of her face were all mixed up: And to make things more horrible, each of her lower teeth seemed to be anchored in a little pool of blood at the gums. She starts out her new life in trouble. She is quickly considered a threat to the lovely and vindictive Hatsumomo who is the only fully trained geisha working for the house. Chiyo is accused of stealing not true. She is accused of ruining an expensive kimono with ink true but under duress.
She is caught trying to escape she broke her arm in the process so try and give the kid a break. Well, all of this ends up costing her two years working as a housemaid when she could have been training as a geisha.
She receives an unexpected benefactress, a mortal enemy of Hatsumomo named Mameha decides to take Chiyo under her wing and insure that she has another opportunity to become a geisha. Chiyo, tired of scrubbing floors and being the do-this and do-that girl of the household realizes her best chance at some form of freedom is to elevate herself.
The Movie based on this book was released in and directed by Rob Marshall. At age 15 her virginity or mizuage is put up for auction. It is hard not to think of this as a barbaric custom, but for a geisha, if a bidding war erupts, she can earn enough money to pay off all the debts that have accumulated for her training.
Chiyo, now called Sayuri, is fortunate to have two prominent men wanting to harvest her flower. The winner is Dr. Crab who paid a record amount for the privilege.
He even led with one shoulder when he walked, just like a crab moving along sideways. After the deed is done, the eel spit in the cave , Dr. Crab brought out a kit filled with bottles that would have made Dexter jealous. Each bottle has a blood sample, soaked in a cotton ball or a piece of towel of every geisha he has ever treated including the blood from his couplings for their virginity.
He cuts a piece of blood soaked towel that was under Sayori and added it to the bottle with her name. The cultural obsession, every country seems to have one, with female virginity is simply pathological. Not strapped to a table by a serial killer type fear, but still there has to be that underlying hum as the man prepares to enter her. I wonder if men, especially those who avidly pursue the deflowering of maidens, are getting off on that fear? Sayori is on her way to a successful career.
She is in love with a man called The Chairman and wishes that he will become her danna, a patron, who can afford to keep a geisha as a mistress. At that moment, beauty itself struck me as a kind of painful melancholy. One misstep, one bit of scandal, and many geishas found themselves ostracized by the community.
They could very easily find themselves in a brothel. During WW2 the geisha community was disbanded, and the girls had to find work elsewhere. Sayori was fortunate. Despite all the hardships I know she was enduring, Arthur Golden chose not to dwell on them in great detail. I was surprised by this because authors usually want and need to press home those poignant moments, so that when the character emerges from the depths of despair the reader can have a heady emotional response to triumph over tragedy.
I really did feel like I was sitting down for tea with Sayori, many years later, and she, as a way of entertaining me, was telling me her life story. Golden interviewed a retired geisha by the name of Mineko Iwasaki who later sued him for using too much of her life story to produce this book. I wonder if Iwasaki was still the perfect geisha, keeping her story uplifting, and glossing over the aspects that could make her company uncomfortable.
I notice some reviewers take issue with Sayori. They feel she did not assert herself, and take control of her life. She does in the end, but she is patient, and waits for a moment when she can predict the outcome. I feel that she did what she needed to do to survive. Most of the time she enjoyed being a geisha.
It takes a long time to learn not only the ways to entertain, but also all the rigid traditions that must be understood to be a successful geisha. As she gets older, and can clearly define the pitfalls of her actions, we see her manipulating the system in her favor.
If you wish to see more of my most recent book and movie reviews, visit http: View all 82 comments. Nov 22, Sophia. Memoirs of a Geisha. I'd been wanting to read that one for a very long time. I had heard so many good things about it. It's supposed to be awesome, and deep, and beautiful, right?
It's not. The writing was what bothered me the most. It's pretentious and superficial, and sloooooww and it goes on and on and on and on and on and still, very little happens. It feels like Golden thought it would be a good idea So.. I still can't believe how many times he compares something to the nature. Ironically, it doesn't feel natural at all. It feels forced and weird and and it's very annoying, as it slows down the pacing which is already very slow and frequently interrupts the narrator's flow of thoughts.
Yes, yes. Because I was so sick and tired of reading for the 40th time how something is LIKE a bird or a snake or whatever, I made a list.
Enjoy, people. This is how Sayuri narrates the story. Please notice and enjoy how natural this way of thinking sounds: I was hoping you'd say that. Here you go! And yet somehow I hadn't imagined a great wave might come and strike me there, and wash everything away.
Just because of that, it can't get more than 2 stars for me. It just can't. It's awful to read. And the characters. They didn't feel real. None of them did. Sayuri on top. So I'm supposed to feel something for her, right? Relate to her somehow. That was impossible. I don't know why, but somehow I was able to relate to Chiyo - but not to Sayuri.
Even though they're the same person, I couldn't bring myself to care for Sayuri. As soon as she "grows up" even though she keeps telling her story with the skills of a freakin' 4 year old so around the time when she becomes a geisha, that is, she becomes insufferable. And she has this sort of weird fascination for adult men, first M. Tanaka and after The Chairman, and it's just so annoying.
Why does she like them? And, yeah, she was also such a victim. She never made anything to change her condition, she was just this kind of submissive woman who, well, blinks and, I dunno, bows.
I know it's the way she's supposed to behave, but still, it's infuriatingly boring to read about such a character. The only thing she ever does for herself is view spoiler [ sleeping with The Minister so she doesn't have to undergo Nabu-whathisname as a danna hide spoiler ] but even that is done in the purpose of eventually being with The Chairman. And who was he, that Chairman?
Who was that man we hear about, again and again and again? What's he like? Have they ever had a real conversation? I don't think so. She idealizes him, she never sees him as who he really is, she just keeps wetting holding that stupid handkerchief every night and that annoyed me.
It felt childish and weird. The only character I liked was Mameha, and she's the angel of the story, meaning that you're just supposed to like her because she's, well, perfect, kind, loyal and beautiful, the way Agnes is in David Copperfield or Melanie in Gone With The Wind. The informations about Geishas were nice, I suppose, but I don't know how much of it is true.
The war was awfully, awfully boring, and very badly executed. I think you can see it was written by an American just by the way the United States are depicted. They atomically bombarded Japan and two of greatest its cities and yet, Sayuri doesn't even blink and say "The American troups were very kind to us and gave candy to the children. The plot dragged on and on, and I had to struggle to finish the book.
The ending felt rushed. I hate, hate it when authors do that. He wrote a whole book about someone's life, and the final chapter is soo rushed and it goes like "So that was forty years ago, now I'm seventy and I'm old and I'm gonna tell you what happened in my life between then and now in like, two sentences. And then he died, and..
Ah yes.. Did we have a kid? Oh, but wouldn't you like to know!..
Well you won't, cause I'm not telling you, neener- neener. I swear, the book probably deserves an award, for like Worst Ending Chapter Ever or something. It made no sense, it gave no real closure. Everything in this book was just so It tried to be epic and it tried to be a classic but it failed so badly. The characters weren't well fleshed-out, it was obvious that the Good people Sayuri, Mahema would triumph over the Bad Hatsumomo , it was obvious that Sayuri would get her happy ending after all..
See, all throughout the book, I was completely disconnected, I didn't feel anything. I didn't smile, or laugh, I certainly didn't cry. I can't even say I'm angry or that I hate the book - because hatred requires that I care, and I don't. I'm just And isn't it the worst state of mind you can possibly be in after you finish a book?
Ultimately, it didn't leave a mark. So the book as a whole was a major disappointment and I'm glad it's over. I just hope the movie might be better - I kept thinking it would be better to watch it, seeing how graphic the descriptions were of the kimonos, for example.
So I saw the movie. View all 70 comments. The novel, told in first person perspective, tells the story of a fictional geisha working in Kyoto, Japan, before and after World War II. View all 9 comments. This book was wonderful.