Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden

I almost did not want to review this book because I have seen the film so many times I didn’t think I’d be able to read the book objectively. I was right…

Without the context of my world literature class, where I have been learning about many things Japanese, I may not have enjoyed the small references in this book as much. I believe the movie does the book justice — there are only a few differences, none of which seem major.

Memoirs of a Geisha

Ziyi Zhang is gorgeous.

For those of you who have not had the pleasure of watching the film or reading the book yet, Memoirs of a Geisha is just that — it’s the telling of a girl (Chiyo/Sayuri) who was sold to be a geisha and her trials, tribulations, triumphs. It also focuses heavily on her obsession with the Chairman (I won’t give his full name, in case some of you don’t know). She bases her entire life on maneuvering to get closer to him.

I love the way that I feel immersed in Japanese culture when I read this book. All the little things really add up to make it a pleasurable experience. Every character seems extremely realistic, and nothing feels out of place. I can tell Arthur Golden spent a long time researching geisha’s every day activities to give this story the depth that it has.

If you enjoyed the movie, or are interested in geisha and Japanese culture, you should definitely read this book. It’s very similar, but with added depth and detail. It moves along quickly and does a great job of making you want to invest your time in the characters.


3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. JustMeMike
    Nov 19, 2011 @ 12:21:34

    I’ve not read the book but I did watch film, and I’ve been to Japan three times. Beyond tha,t I did see Maiko’s or geisha apprentices (trainees) on the streets in Kyoto.

    Good luck with your blog.



  2. Nose in a book
    Nov 29, 2011 @ 02:14:53

    This book has been criticised a little for being a westerner’s view of life as a geisha. It’s hard to know whether that’s true, being a westerner myself! But I liked this back when I read it and I liked the film too. I also read a couple of autobiographies by actual geishas and they covered a lot of the same ground so I suspect it’s not that Arthur Golden got it wrong, but more that old adage about writing what you know – people get so upset when you don’t!


  3. Trackback: The Courtesan By Alexandra Curry | Realm of Reviews

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