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Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden

Memoirs of a Geisha (original 1997; edition 1999)

by Arthur Golden

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
30,86848446 (4.01)483
Title:Memoirs of a Geisha
Authors:Arthur Golden
Info:Vintage Books (1999), Edition: Vintage Contemporaries Edition 1999, Paperback, 428 pages
Collections:Your library

Work details

Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden (1997)

  1. 180
    Geisha: A Life by Mineko Iwasaki (Leishai, sbuehrle)
    Leishai: Arthur Golden schrieb einen Roman über Geishas. Mineko Iwasaki war die Geiko, die er dafür interviewte. Sie stellt in ihrem Buch alles richtig, was er sich zu dramatischen Zwecken zurechtgeschnitten hat.
    sbuehrle: I would recommend reading these books back-to-back. Memoirs of a Geisha is the fictional account of Iwasaki's life, whereas Geisha: A Life is the autobiographical response.
  2. 184
    Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See (goodiegoodie)
  3. 40
    Autobiography of a Geisha by Sayo Masuda (whymaggiemay)
    whymaggiemay: Beautifully written story of a geisha who fares better than Sayo Masuda.
  4. 51
    Empress Orchid by Anchee Min (krizia_lazaro)
  5. 63
    Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen (caflores)
  6. 31
    Geisha by Liza Dalby (SqueakyChu, MartinRohrbach, Leishai)
    Leishai: Ein gutes Buch für Europäer oder Amerikaner zum Verständnis der japanischen Geisha-Kultur.
  7. 20
    The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon by Sei Shonagon (brightbel)
  8. 10
    Geisha in Rivalry by Kafu Nagai (normandie_m)
    normandie_m: Set slightly earlier and in Tokyo, but also worth reading for exploring the relationship dynamics between geisha and their patrons, who come from a variety of different backgrounds. Also offers insight into the relationships/friendships between the different geisha.… (more)
  9. 10
    Kimonos (365 Series) by Sophie Milenovich (JuliaMaria)
  10. 10
    Plum Wine by Angela Davis-Gardner (Catt172)
  11. 01
    Still Life With Rice by Helie Lee (dawnlovesbooks)
  12. 01
    The Teahouse Fire by Ellis Avery (cransell)
  13. 01
    Jia: A Novel of North Korea by Hyejin Kim (meggyweg)
  14. 05
    The Physician by Noah Gordon (MartinRohrbach)

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» See also 483 mentions

English (460)  Spanish (10)  Dutch (6)  French (3)  Italian (1)  Portuguese (Portugal) (1)  Finnish (1)  All languages (482)
Showing 1-5 of 460 (next | show all)
What Made Me Read It I've always had a fascination for Japanese culture but knew very little about the geisha world in particular, so this book seemed like the perfect way to kill two birds with one stone.
The Good It's a beautiful, atmospheric, evocative and engaging novel about the art of becoming a geisha. Through the liberal use of metaphors and analogies the author paints a vivid imagery of the richness and elegance of Japan's culture and traditions, transporting us to the Japanese society of that time. But it's also a disturbing, heart-breaking and tragic coming of age story of a girl forced into the life of privation and service of a geisha in a male dominated society - subservient to the Okyia they're sold to, entertainers of men and subject to their whims, pursued and rented off as sexual mistresses to the powerful male elite. The protagonist Chiyo/Sayuri undergoes significant character development throughout the novel, from a young naive girl in training to a fully fledged geisha. Not only do the secondary characters feel very real and in some cases even sympathetic, but the author also manages to convincingly portrait the feelings and personalities of the female characters.
The Not So Good The author might have put a lot of effort in this novel, with extensive research and even interviewing real life geisha, to depict Japanese culture in general and the geisha world in particular as faithfully as he claimed to be, but he didn't hesitate to flat-out gloss over and even ignore the atrocities committed by the American troops during WWII, describing them as well-mannered saviors instead. Fictional work or not, talk about distorting facts when it suits you!
Read the full review on: https://literaryportals.blogspot.com/2018/09/book-review-memoirs-of-geisha-by-arthur.html
Final Rating "Memoirs of a Geisha" is a memorable and compelling historical novel recommended for those interested in Japanese culture and traditions, and the still mostly unknown world of geisha. ( )
  LiteraryPortals | Nov 9, 2018 |
Good ( )
  AlexGarza | Oct 4, 2018 |
A good read. Before this book, I had very little interest in Japanese culture, but I still found the book to be very interesting, and it was also fairly well-written. The author did a good job of creating a world that felt familiar even though it was so foreign. ( )
  Borrows-N-Wants | Sep 22, 2018 |
It's not my usual cup of tea, and although I'd heard from multiple sources that it was a wonderful book, I was still mildly surprised by how much I liked it. The descriptions were original and enthralling, and the range of characters were deftly portrayed. It's a long book, but it drew me in so hard and fast that I whipped through it in under a week.

There was one point where I threw down the book in disgust (almost literally), but it had nothing to do with the writing or the story The story's climax involves the main character doing something unkind to someone who had helped her immeasurably over the years because she's in love with another man, and I grew so angry with her as she considered whether she was 'capable' of betraying a friend--it was clear at that point to me, as the reader, that she was plenty capable of it and I felt that she was simply trying to convince herself and the reader that she was more innocent than she actually was. It drove me so crazy I actually put the book aside for several days before I could return to it.

All in all, however, it was a fantastic and engaging read. Very recommended. ( )
  whatsmacksaid | Sep 21, 2018 |
I picked up this book from the library, though I doubted whether I would like it. I was glad to find that it was a captivating and quick read, and I finished it in only a couple days. However, by the middle of the book, I found myself hating the main character. I realize that I was supposed to sympathize with her because she'd had a hard life, but I really wanted to tell her to get over herself and stop using people in an attempt to fulfill some fantasy she had as a teenager. I just wanted her to SHUT UP ALREADY about the Chairman. However, there are many people who enjoy this book, and I can see why. The story is decent and written well. I would recommend that others give it a try, but it really wasn't my cup of tea. ( )
  mmseiple | Sep 13, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 460 (next | show all)
Golden fills the book with vivid images and subtle descriptions of the nuances of Japanese culture, and is absolutely brilliant in his description of the customs and rituals of the geisha. Through the meticulous detail the reader can fully understand the politics, rivalries, and traditions of the Japan geisha society.
added by mikeg2 | editCNN, Ann Hastings (May 25, 1998)
Mr. Golden gives us not only a richly sympathetic portrait of a woman, but also a finely observed picture of an anomalous and largely vanished world. He has made an impressive and unusual debut.
Haarhuis's foreword and Golden's epilogue, the one appropriating the guise of a novel and the other taking it off, suggest an author who is of two minds when it comes to his work. It is not surprising, then, if his readers share this uncertainty. The decision to write an autobiographically styled novel rather than a nonfiction portrait is most obviously justified in terms of empathy, of allowing greater freedom to explore the geisha's inner life. Unfortunately, Sayuri's personality seems so familiar it is almost generic; she is not so much an individual as a faultless arrangement of feminine virtues.

» Add other authors (19 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Golden, Arthurprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Cobb, JodiCover photographsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
de Wilde, BarbaraCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stege, GiselaÜbersetzersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Weinstein, IrisDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Wikipedia in English (1)

Book description
A seductive and evocative epic on an intimate scale, that tells the extraordinary story of a geisha girl. Summoning up more than twenty years of Japan's most dramatic history, it uncovers a hidden world of eroticism and enchantment, exploitation and degradation. From a small fishing village in 1929, the tale moves to the glamorous and decadent heart of Kyoto in the 1930s, where a young peasant girl is sold as servant and apprentice to a renowned geisha house. She tells her story many years later from the Waldorf Astoria in New York; it exquisitely evokes another culture, a different time and the details of an extraordinary way of life. It conjures up the perfection and the ugliness of life behind rice-paper screens, where young girls learn the arts of geisha - dancing and singing, how to wind the kimono, how to walk and pour tea, and how to beguile the most powerful men.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0679781587, Paperback)

The first thing you notice about the audio version of Memoirs of a Geisha is that Arthur Golden's 428-page novel has been reduced to a scant two cassettes. But dismay quickly gives way to mounting pleasure as Elaina Erika Davis (Contact, As the World Turns) begins her delicate rendering of geisha culture in the years before World War II. Davis reads the abbreviated story of Sayuri with an authentic-sounding Japanese accent--one mixed with a magical combination of Asian reserve and theatrical energy. As Sayuri ages from a 9-year-old peasant girl to a popular geisha in her late 20s, Davis directs her voice gently away from curious youth to a tone that reflects Sayuri's uphill life.

From start to finish, the listener is absorbed in the elegant spirit of Davis's performance, eager to hear the next chapter of Sayuri's transformation into one of the most famous geishas of the century. How unfortunate, then, to learn that book readers not only get the basic story, but a fascinating look at the intricate rules and rituals of geisha culture. Here, for example, is one of the many revelations omitted from the cassette: "Japanese men, as a rule, feel about a woman's neck and throat the same way that men in the West might feel about a woman's legs.... In fact, a geisha leaves a tiny margin of skin bare all around the hairline, causing her makeup to look even more artificial.... When a man sits beside her, he becomes that much more aware of the bare skin beneath."

We're also denied several subplots--the aborted friendship between Sayuri and a geisha named Pumpkin, for example, or much of the story involving the man Sayuri is secretly in love with. But what remains is as precious as a traditional Japanese kimono--at once artistic, suggestive, and moving. --Ann Senechal

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:16:27 -0400)

(see all 8 descriptions)

Because her mother is dying and her father old, Chiyo, nine, is sold to a wealthy geisha house in Gion where she learns her trade and works it in the 1930s and 1940s.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 16 descriptions

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