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Memoirs of a Geisha (1997)

by Arthur Golden

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
33,10351652 (4)511
A fisherman's daughter in 1930s Japan rises to become a famous geisha. After training, Sayuri's virginity is sold to the highest bidder, then the school finds her a general for a patron. When he dies, she is reunited with the only man she loved.
  1. 190
    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. 41
    Geisha by Liza Dalby (SqueakyChu, MartinRohrbach, Leishai)
    Leishai: Ein gutes Buch für Europäer oder Amerikaner zum Verständnis der japanischen Geisha-Kultur.
  6. 30
    The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon by Sei Shonagon (brightbel)
  7. 63
    Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen (caflores)
  8. 20
    Kimonos (365 Series) by Sophie Milenovich (JuliaMaria)
  9. 20
    The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan (sturlington)
  10. 20
    Plum Wine by Angela Davis-Gardner (Catt172)
  11. 20
    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)
  12. 01
    The Teahouse Fire by Ellis Avery (cransell)
  13. 01
    Still Life With Rice by Helie Lee (dawnlovesbooks)
  14. 01
    Jia: A Novel of North Korea by Hyejin Kim (meggyweg)
  15. 05
    The Physician by Noah Gordon (MartinRohrbach)

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» See also 511 mentions

English (488)  Spanish (12)  Dutch (6)  French (4)  Italian (1)  Portuguese (Portugal) (1)  Finnish (1)  All languages (513)
Showing 1-5 of 488 (next | show all)
Historical fiction about the life of a geisha in Japan starting with her childhood and moving through her training and the turns her life takes through WWII and beyond. I enjoyed the story quite a bit up until the end, when I became annoyed at the main character's life choices and the path the love story took. I felt the novel would have been more interesting and would have ended on a much stronger note had Sayuri shown more actual character growth (or maybe she did grow and just in a way I didn't want her to?). Also, I'm slightly uneasy with the fact that the author is a white American male. The writing is good and the story is fairly interesting, but just because he can doesn't really mean he should. I now feel like I should seek out authentic geisha stories by #ownvoices authors. ( )
  electrascaife | Mar 28, 2021 |
It's been many years since I read this book, but lately I've just been craving a re-read since I unpacked it along with the rest of my long-since boxed up collection. I'm so glad that I caved rather than insisting on reading more new material because this novel was a total palette cleanser - and I needed one. The last time that I read this book I remember being a bit disappointed that it didn't match the film, but honestly I don't see the problem anymore. I think that the narration threw me off a bit previously, since the story in the film is presented with a bit of distance between the reader and Sayuri, but this time around I felt like it actually drew me into the story more to see things from Sayuri's personal perspective. Golden could easily have told this story from a variety of perspectives, but having Sayuri narrate her own story made me feel like we were hearing the story while seated at an intimate teahouse engagement. Obviously this mode of storytelling (and its subsequent intimiacy with the audience) is meant to mirror the relationship between geisha and their clients - we are there to be entertained and made to feel welcome, but we must not forget that what we receive is not necesarily the truth between two true companions. Sayuri's story is told to us with many startling secrets (some of which I am sure would never be divulged by a true geisha), which breaks the reality of the story somewhat, but is the result of the author's artistic license. All that formatting stuff aside, this is definitely one of my favourite historical fiction novels. Golden may have taken some liberties with the facts of geisha culture, but the narrative he has written touches on many themes that ring true for humanity as a whole and for that specific period in time, and are sure to spark reader's interest in discovering more about Japan. It's been even more years since I seriously studied Japanese culture or language, but it is compelling stories like these which pique my interest in expanding my knowledge. ( )
  JaimieRiella | Feb 25, 2021 |
Loved it! ( )
  BobbieJR | Jan 14, 2021 |
Fantastic. So real ( )
  jillSinclair | Jan 6, 2021 |
Listened to audio narrated by well Bernadette Dunne. She helped transport me to another country, in another time.

Nitta Sayuri is unique with her blue-gray eyes. At nine years old she is sold into slavery into a renowned geisha house. This story is about her life and transformation from poor child, to slave, to renowned Geisha, to surviving the war. First she's driven to escape, then to survive. Her life and her choices aren't always pretty but it made for an engaging story.

The mysterious world of the Geisha, the beauty and the ugly and everything in between was fascinating to listen to as Bernadette Dunne's wonderful narration helped transport me into this fictional world of Geisha.

If you like my reviews I hope you will follow my blog. https://wyldheartreads.wordpress.com/
( )
  wyldheartreads | Dec 14, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 488 (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 (17 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Golden, Arthurprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Cobb, JodiCover photographsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Cohen, RonaldTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
de Wilde, BarbaraCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stege, GiselaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Weinstein, IrisDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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For my wife, Trudy,
and my children, Hays and Tess
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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."
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Wikipedia in English (1)

A fisherman's daughter in 1930s Japan rises to become a famous geisha. After training, Sayuri's virginity is sold to the highest bidder, then the school finds her a general for a patron. When he dies, she is reunited with the only man she loved.

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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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