Memoirs of a Geisha

Arthur Golden


Why Memoirs of a Geisha and Mt. Fuji

I struggled a little bit with this book club selection. It was the first book that came to mind when I thought about which book to pair with the country of Japan. The reason I struggled with making this the selection is I wanted to pick a novel by a Japanese author such as Haruki Murakami. The reason I did not pick a Japanese author is that I have not yet had the chance to read much Japanese literature. I hear the Wind-Up Bird Chronicle is one of Murakami’s best books and I hope to read it very soon. If you have read it or read it, tell me what you think.

With that said, Memoirs of a Geisha is a book I enjoyed when I read it fifteen years ago. It’s a very accessible and enjoyable read. I also enjoy novels that feature strong female protagonists that overcome the odds through sheer strength and perseverance. It’s an interesting interpretation of what life was like was probably like for young girls who found themselves in the Japanese Geisha system in the first part of the 20th century.

More About Memoirs of a Geisha

Memoirs of a Geisha was the debut novel of Arthur Golden and became an immediate international bestseller when it was released in 1999.

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.

There is also a 2005 movie directed by Rob Marshall (Chicago) and starring Ziyi Zhang and Ken Watanabe.