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Memoirs of a Geisha: A Novel Paperback – January 10, 1999
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"Captivating, minutely imagined . . . a novel that refuses to stay shut." —Newsweek
"A story with the social vibrancy and narrative sweep of a much-loved 19th century bildungsroman. . . . This is a high-wire act. . . . Rarely has a world so closed and foreign been evoked with such natural assurance." —The New Yorker
From the Inside Flap
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.
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The story of Saiyuri is a very detailed one, and how she came to be a geisha. The (fictional) biographical novel of a geisha is definitely a wonderful read. I love all things Japanese, and this book is a great insight into the world, as it is well researched and well written. In some places it is like a story, and in others it is like reading an encyclopedia of Japanese culture, and the two mix so well together that it is almost unnoticeable. The characters are believable, and each ones follows their path in life and you know where most of them land. That is definitely good story-telling.
Moreover, the book is also going to draw you into a life story you will want to know about, even if you saw the movie first (like me). believe me, the movie has nothing on the book. It only gives you a visual for what the world looks like. The true depth of the book is much deeper, stronger and more drawn out in a way that the reader will find most enjoyable.
However. This book was written by a white, western male who tries to pass himself off as a Japanese woman, and it shows.
Reading this book left me with the impression that the author has yet to meet a bad alliteration, metaphor and/or trope that he cannot use and abuse in some way, a philosophy that he should seriously reconsider. The book is full of them, which makes it a hard read.
There are several flaws inherent in the book, starting with his overly done portrayal of the villain Hatsumomo, you never quite understand why she hates Sayuri so much, or why she is such a bitch. Some small redeeming quality would have added much to both Hatsumomo and the book!
Mameha is flat and one dimensional, as is the Chairman. Nobu-san, the anti-hero was the only one who had a flicker of personality, which was quickly snuffed out by bad writing. Pumpkin, Mother, and Auntie may as well have been written out, as he does little to develop them,despite them being an important part or Sayuri's life.
There are many, many inaccuracies about Geisha culture as a whole, and geisha in particular in the book and instead of making some effort to address them, the author chooses to repeat them, ad nauseum.
If you can overlook all of the negatives, it isn't an absolutely terrible read. But, it will never be one of my favorites.
For me, the whole thing was stale and flat while the the author comes across as an arrogant, sexually obsessed dilettante. It's hard to believe that he has degrees in Japanese culture, as he acts more like a stereotypical westerner and a culture vulture.
The fact that he quickly and publicly sold out one of his sources (for which he was sued) does him no favors as a person. The only reason he got as much press as he did was because he used his family connections with the publishers of the Times.
If you want a GOOD, WELL WRITTEN, AND ACCURATE book on Geisha and Geisha culture, stay away from this culture vulture and read Liza Dalby or Mineko Iwasaki, or pretty much any other writer but this one.
Top international reviews
It's a novel which, once read, will stay with you forever - so vivid is the writing and characterisation.
A must read.
The book is in English.
It was dispatched really fast and delivered quickly too. Safely packaged and as described. Would definitely use this seller again! thank you!
You will not be able to put this book down.... Seriously.... . Stunning, sometimes provocative and disturbing.... Depending on your moral standing...