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Memoirs of a Geisha

4.11  ·  Rating details ·  1,606,824 ratings  ·  28,346 reviews
According to Arthur Golden's absorbing first novel, the word "geisha" does not mean "prostitute," as Westerners ignorantly assume--it means "artisan" or "artist." To capture the geisha experience in the art of fiction, Golden trained as long and hard as any geisha who must master the arts of music, dance, clever conversation, crafty battle with rival beauties, and cunning ...more
Hardcover, 428 pages
Published September 23rd 1997 by Knopf Publishing Group
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Orinoco Womble (tidy bag and all) "Geisha" and "prostitute" are not the same thing. There are still geisha who are what the original word means: artists. "Gei" means "art." They…more"Geisha" and "prostitute" are not the same thing. There are still geisha who are what the original word means: artists. "Gei" means "art." They specialise in one of the performing arts: music, traditional dancing, reciting poetry or singing, etc. A real geisha's job is to act as a hostess in the true sense of the word, by providing conversation, serving food and drink etc at formal dinners, or accompanying a guest to observe the beauties of nature such as cherry blossoms, autumn colours etc--often with a picnic included, at which the geisha will serve the food or treats. They are paid for this service, but sex is not a given part of the service offered. There are indeed prostitutes in Japan, as there are in every other country in the world (except maybe Antarctica), but the terms are not interchangeable.(less)
Shahd Anwar صراحة ، انا كنت بدي اقرأ الرواية عشان الفلم ، بس الكتاب طلع فعلا 'حاجة تأنيه خالص' . الفلم كثييييييييير مقطع الكتاب وحاذف مقاطع كاملة احيانا ، مع انه…moreصراحة ، انا كنت بدي اقرأ الرواية عشان الفلم ، بس الكتاب طلع فعلا 'حاجة تأنيه خالص' . الفلم كثييييييييير مقطع الكتاب وحاذف مقاطع كاملة احيانا ، مع انه محافظ على الشعور العام الا انه لم يوفه حقه . الكتاب اجمل بكثير والأحداث مفسرة بشكل اكبر ، مثلا قصة ماميها مفسرة بشكل اكبر وأجمل في الكتاب مع البارون (الفلم تقريبا حاذفها) دروس سايوري في المدرسة ، علاقتها مع الناس اللي ساكنين جيون ، علاقتها مع الام والعمة وبامبكين كلها اجمل في الكتاب . مع انه الرواية من أطول الكتب اللي قرأتها بس ممتعة جداً وحسب رأيي ، مع انه الفلم جميل ، الكتاب اجمل :)

ملاحظة: انا قرأت الكتاب بالانجليزية ، ما بعرف عن الترجمة العربية بس بقترح (اذا قررت تقرأ الرواية) تقرأها باللغة الأصلية (الانجليزية) احسن ، لانه الكاتب لغته جميلة جدا ، اعتقد انه رح تضيع اذا أترجمت . (less)

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Average rating 4.11  · 
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 ·  1,606,824 ratings  ·  28,346 reviews


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Juushika
Mar 26, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Memoirs of a Geisha is an American novel, and as such the attempt at West does East, especially on the complex and delicate subject of the geisha, is compelling, interesting, but also heavy-handed and ultimately ineffective (even more so in the case of the film). It is a wonderful introduction to geisha, Japanese culture, and the East for the uninitiated Western reader, and I can see why the book is popular, but I found it disappointing. For the reader already familiar with the culture, western ...more
Liz Lynch
Like eating fancy dessert at a gourmet restaurant, Memoirs of a Geisha is beautiful, melts lightly off the tongue and will be forgotten shortly after it's done. The language is strikingly lovely, and Golden paints a remarkable picture of a time and place.

If you're looking to learn something deep about the psychology of Japanese culture, or meet nuanced characters, then I'd steer you elsewhere. The story only skims the top of the more complicated aspects of a Japan in decline, focusing mostly on
...more
Jeffrey Keeten
Nov 28, 2013 rated it really liked it
”Whatever our struggles and triumphs, however we may suffer them, all too soon they bleed into a wash, just like watery ink on paper. “

 photo MinekoIwasaki_zpsceab2a8e.jpg
Geisha Mineko Iwasaki basis for Chiyo/Sayori.

Chiyo, with her sister Satsu, and her mother and father live in a shack by the sea on the coast of Japan. The shack leans, and has to be propped up to keep from total collapse. Her mother is sick and on the verge of death. Her father is a fisherman, uneducated, and generally befuddled by anything that doesn’t have to
...more
Sophia.

So.. Memoirs of a Geisha. I'd been wanting to read that one for a very long time. I had heard so many good things about it. It's supposed to be awesome, and deep, and beautiful, right?
Wrong. It's not.

The writing was what bothered me the most. It's pretentious and superficial, and sloooooww and it goes on and on and on and on and on and still, very little happens. In some sort of weird combination, the writing is both superficial and cliché. It feels like Golden thought it would be a good idea
...more
Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin
This book was wonderful. I absolutely love the movie, which I now need to watch!



In many ways, this was a sad story for me. I would really like to read a biography of a geisha and watch a documentary to really look into their world.





We lead our lives like water flowing down a hill, going more or less in one direction until we splash into something that forces us to find a new course.


Happy Reading!

Mel
...more
T.J.
May 13, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Damn if you aren't one of the most problematic things I've ever read, Memoirs of a Geisha.

Like much of non-Asian America, I was swept up in the delight of reading this book in 2000. I was fifteen and precocious, and the narrative was arresting. I couldn't put the book down. I wrote this in 2000:

"Golden has hit pay dirt with this masterpiece. An insightful, curious, and caring look into the mysterious world of geisha, Arthur Golden peels away the ignorance and labeling that westerners have
...more
Argona
I became fascinated with Japanese culture when I was a teenage girl and since then I have read many Japanese-related books and articles and have watched many movies and animes that depict parts of Japanese culture but the fact remains that I am not Japanese, I have never been to Japan and I am a foreigner, captivated by this exotic and very different culture.

As a foreigner, I see many beautiful and unique aspects to Japanese culture but I also know about certain painful historical facts such as
...more
Fabian
Dec 02, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well, I finally got around to this one. & I think I understand its fan base and its subsequent literary worth; it was the "Gone Girl" of the 90's. (Only in popularity.) This time, the fairy tale (with "Girl" it seems as if we're more comfortable with the cautionary tale in the 10's) has a Cinderella and many suitors after her. It is absolutely immersive... a page turner that has as many colors as a used-up coloring book. I see the geisha in that light: like La Marilyn, the geisha are symbol ...more
Elyse (retired from reviewing/semi hiatus) Walters
I read this a long time ago ---(a favorite) --- Its amazing a 'male' wrote this book. (sure 'felt' like a female speaking).



Matthew
This one is going to be a bit difficult for me to review. I enjoyed it, but it was kinda weird. It was interesting, but kind of slow. The historical fiction aspect is interesting, but I have seen many reviews critical of the actual truth of it all.

The pros:
- Very good storytelling - Each chapter was its own short story and I found it easy to read and stay interested.
- Characters - I was invested in the characters. In fact, I was so invested I could feel my loathing for one of the bad characters
...more
Henry Avila
Jun 01, 2016 rated it really liked it
In a small Japanese fishing village of Yoroido, on the coast of the Sea of Japan, a child Chiyo Sakamoto, 9, lives with an ancient father, dying mother, and older sister Satsu, in a dilapidated home, leaning over a cliff, the year 1929, things are tough and will get harder, as the Great Depression is about to commence...the impoverished family needs help and the two sisters are sold. Pretty Chiyo, with beautiful eyes, to become a geisha after a long apprenticeship and the unlucky, plain Satsu, ...more
Anne
Sep 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was one of the best-written books I have ever read. There was something so special about the writing style, I can't really put it into words. It was just so "fitting" and transported me right into this fascinating world. I knew absolutely nothing about the Geisha tradition going into this book, and I feel like I've learnt so much! It is extremely evident that the author did a lot of extensive research and clearly appreciates the Japanese culture. I never would have guessed that I could ...more
Shelby *trains flying monkeys*
I read this book back when it first came out. I never wrote a review of it because when I first joined GR I didn't really know what it was all about. It took a bit before it sunk in for me.

Now GR members get spammed at times. The newest form of spam is review bumping. I didn't even know that existed because..well I'm a slow learner. I kept noticing the same person's reviews on my thread. Several times a day. All day. For weeks. Someone finally pointed out to me that they are bumping their
...more
Michi
Jun 11, 2007 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Very entertaining, but kind of made me gag. Everything was written in this faux-asian "My heart ached like cherry blossom petals floating on the river..." bullshit.
Clumsy Storyteller
Very interesting,entertaining, and quick to read! Chiyo/Sayuri and her sister Satsu were sold into slavery at the age of 9 by their father, Sayuri tells of her traumatic arrival at the Nitta okiya (a geisha house), where she endures harsh treatment from everyone, In spite of the problems she had to face, Sayuri became the beautiful geisha accomplished in the art of entertaining men.







“He was like a song I'd heard once in fragments but had been singing in my mind ever since.”

“Can't you see? Every
...more
Arah-Lynda
Jul 23, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: top, killer-prose, i-said

A beautiful, poingnant story that is so incredibly, lyrically captivating you are seduced from the very first word. An absolute work of art, each page overflows with beautiful, sensual, evocative images.

Such is the skill and authority of Golden's writing, I feel as though I have spent hours, being entertained by the most gifted of all Geisha. Utterly Satisfying. I want to read it again for the very first time!

❄️Nani❄️
Loved the book and the writing but there was something about it that I passionately disliked as well.
I can’t explain it as I myself don’t understand it but it definitely hindered my enjoyment to the full.

I was also somewhat take aback by my sheer dislike for Sayuri. I feel like I’m the only one who actively disliked her to this extent but there were moments where I felt so infuriated by her, by her selfishness, her utter lack of loyalty, her self-importance... I just couldn’t stand her.
Dem
Aug 19, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had seen Memoirs of a Geisha described many times as the “Perfect Novel” and one of the 100 books you should read before you die, so perhaps my expectations were a little height for this one as I was expecting an emotional read and a novel that would transport me in time and enlighten me to mystery of the Japanese culture of the time but sadly this story while good and well written was too slow moving and an unemotional read for me

I had been wanting to read this novel for years and they say
...more
Megan B.
Feb 13, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Megan B. by: no one
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jason Koivu
A Cinderella romance that unexpectedly swept me away! Memoirs of a Geisha is a very picturesque and dramatic tale of a young village girl taken from her family and raised in Kyoto as a geisha.

Usually I don't go in for romance. Don't get me wrong, I love love. But I prefer my love stories to be true. There is something immensely powerful about real love. As far as I've been able to discover, much of this story is based on the actual events of the life of former geisha Mineko Iwasaki. Why do I
...more
Britany
I'm not sure why it's taken me this long to read this one, but I'm so glad I finally got to it.

This is decidedly a slow burn of a novel. The introduction confused me a little bit with a translator talking about meeting with Sayuri- a well known geisha that wanted to tell her story to this one person and leave her legacy behind. The reader is quickly taken back to the 1930's in Gion as we watch Sayuri become one of the most renowned geisha in Japan. The writing was beautiful and this is novel to
...more
Sara
Jul 05, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved the romantic parts but I just wished it was more and I also found this book to long and some parts were realy boring , but overall I realy enjoyed it and now I finally know what an geisha is ...more
Ahmad Mustafa
4.5 stars
This novel is very rich and full of diverse characters and shows a big deal of the classic Japanese tradition.

-Every character represents an aspect and an attitude of humans

-Although it is lengthy but I don't find it boring,the length of the book helped in building up the anticipation for the end,thus more satisfaction.

-some people find it insulting to women,well it is a novel not the author's belief.

-I kinda liked Hatsumomo and felt bad for her end,she was the salt of the book.

-the
...more
Katie
Aug 20, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nenia ⚡ Aspiring Evil Overlord ⚡ Campbell

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As a reader of bodice-rippers and books that are a part of the Luxury Suite Trash Experience, I'm prepared to discuss how and when some of my favorite reads can be problematic. I don't feel bad about enjoying them but I do think it's important to have dialogues about why others might not, and why this is 100% okay for others to feel this way without having their opinions lambasted by stans. I, for example, refuse to buy or read anything by
...more
Khalid
Apr 15, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: already-read
Memoirs of a Geisha is an amazing novel that discusses the life of a Geisha, a Japanese artist-entertainer. Both its very exotic setting, with its extremely different value system, and its fascinating plot, which grabs your interest early on and keeps you waiting for more all along, contribute to making this novel a special book worthy of reading.

The best quality in this novel, in my opinion, is the way the narrator (Chiyo), tells the story. Her reflections concerning much of the events in the
...more
Lyn
Dec 30, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A pleasing mix of Great Expectations and Little Orphan Annie but all mixed up in Japanese Geisha society.

Full disclosure: I, like many westerners, believed that geisha were a high end version of prostitutes. Sophisticated, talented and very excessively priced – but prostitutes all the same.

Golden’s book has afforded me some erudition and I now know that is not the full story … except, well … there are still some elements of prostitution in the story. The fictional geisha first person narrator
...more
chlo (the.lovely.reader)
Absolutely stunning and flawless.
Promoted to one of my all-time favorite books.

I've no clue how the author wrote this, being that he is not a geisha, not Japanese, not a woman, not from the World War II era, etc., etc.... but it is absolutely incredible.
Joey Woolfardis
Read as part of The Infinite Variety Reading Challenge, based on the BBC's Big Read Poll of 2003.

There's nothing positive about this book, so let's just go straight in to why it was so bad.

The narrative was unbelievable. And I don't mean "OMGA DID YOU SEE THAT?" kind of unbelievable, I mean it was so unconvincing it was dire. At not point did it feel like a woman, a Geisha, a girl, a human being was telling me a story. It felt so flat and boring and my gosh, she was tedious. She had the
...more
Saffron
Jun 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Jesus! This is one long-a$$ book. It took me two weeks to finish but I did it. And in the end, it made me cry. Now I am sad that its over. I wish this book was never-ending on paper as much as this is everlasting in my mind.

Perfect. Sad. Beautiful. A great love story.
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Arthur Golden was born in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and was educated at Harvard College, where he received a degree in art history, specializing in Japanese art. In 1980 he earned an M.A. in Japanese history from Columbia University, where he also learned Mandarin Chinese. Following a summer in Beijing University, he worked in Tokyo, and, after returning to the United States, earned an M.A. in ...more
“At the temple there is a poem called "Loss" carved into the stone. It has three words, but the poet has scratched them out. You cannot read loss, only feel it.” 1593 likes
“The heart dies a slow death, shedding each hope like leaves until one day there are none. No hopes. Nothing remains.” 1174 likes
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