Geisha no kaiko-roku

The Book

Memoirs of a Geisha


Arthur Golden



What it says on the back cover

‘Memoirs of a Geisha is the sort of novel that novel lovers yearn for, which is to say. so convincing that while reading it you become transported to another time, another place, and you feel you’re listening and seeing with someone else’s ears and eyes’.  Margaret Forster

‘Endlessly fascinating … a narrative that is both gripping and beautifully placed…a wonderful read.’ Observer

‘Sayuri’s memories reveal Golden, to have great gifts of imaginative empathy… fascinating’. Independent

‘This is one of those rare novels that evokes a vanished world with absolute conviction and in every detail… This book is exceptional’. Daily Mail

A truly engrossing story. The reader suffers, triumphs, dreams and doubts with the heroine, all the way through… These memoirs are beautifully written’. Sunday Express

‘This is a high-wire act… Rarely has a world so closed and foreign been evoked with such natural assurance’. New Yorker

What made me pick up this book?

Actually the back cover, I was rather keen to read a book that took me on a journey to the unknown. Many of us are aware of what a geisha is, but very few really speak out about it let alone tell their story. To be perfectly honest, I did not really acknowledge the author of the book until I was towards the  middle of reading it. Little did I realise that the author was neither Japanese nor female. I was rather taken aback but in a good way. I was really impressed.

About this book

This book is written as it were a memoir written by a Japanese woman known as Sayuri who introduces the reader to her world by introducing her life before she became a geisha and how she ended up leaving her village due to her mother’s illness and how her father made the choice to sell her and her sibling sister into two separate Geisha houses known as Okiya starting from the bottom up working like a slave to the other more experienced Geisha’s suffering in the hands of the women. Represented like a Japanese Cinderella Sayuri eventually grows up becoming  more beautiful and a Geisha in her own right.


Is this book worth buying?

This book was a page turner. There is something rather sophisticated about this book, refined and unique that makes this book what it is. I read each page, enjoying each one and feeling like a fly on the wall playing witness to Sayuri’s life and watching it unfold as she makes the transition from girl to woman. This book is one that will leave you thinking having learnt about the world of these Japanese entertainers and their secret world. When discovering that the author was male completely blew me away as I was impressed with his attention to detail, sharing a voice of what I thought was a female and helping me to unlock the secrets of what goes on in these mysterious worlds that are so different, so unique and vastly different and far away from my own. Wikipedia writes ” The novel Memoirs of a Geisha was written over a 6-year period during which Golden rewrote the entire novel three times, changing the point of view before finally settling on the first person viewpoint of Sayuri. Interviews with a number of geisha, including Mineko Iwasaki, provided background information about the world of the geisha”. (Wikipedia, 2014).

Here is an interview with the book’s author Arthur Golden who discusses the book.

“In that moment, I changed from a girl facing nothing but emptiness, to someone with purpose. I saw that to be a geisha could be a stepping stone to something else… a place in this world”.
-Sayuri (main character) Memoirs of Geisha

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