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Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden: "Presented as the memoirs of a celebrated Japanese geisha, Golden's first novel follows a poor youngster from her humble origins in a rural fishing village to her later years spent in luxurious surroundings in New York City's Waldorf-Astoria. In 1929, nine-year-old Sayuri is sold to an okiya in Kyoto by her desperate father, where she is slated to be trained as a geisha. The intensive courses require her to learn how to dance, play a musical instrument, gracefully wear the heavy, layered costumes, apply elaborate makeup, and, most especially, beguile powerful men. Initially stymied by the jealous, vindictive Hatsumomo, the okiya's top earner, Sayuri is eventually taken under the wing of one of Hatsumomo's chief rivals, Mameha. She proves to be such an astute businesswoman that her campaign to make Sayuri a success results in Sayuri's setting a new record when two wealthy men get into a bidding war over who will be the one to claim her virginity. "
If you like Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden, you may likese these selections:
Across the Nightingale Floor by Lian Hearn
Set in an imaginary, ancient Japanese society dominated by warring clans, Across the Nightingale Floor is a story of a boy who is suddenly plucked from his life in a remote and peaceful village to find himself a pawn in a political scheme, filled with treacherous warlords, rivalry-and the intensity of first love. This is the first in a trilogy.
The binding chair, or, A visit from the Foot Emancipation Society : a novel by Kathryn Harrison
In poised and elegant prose, Kathryn Harrison weaves a stunning story of women, travel, and flight; of love, revenge, and fear; of the search for home and the need to escape it. Set in alluring Shanghai at the turn of the century, The Binding Chair intertwines the destinies of a Chinese woman determined to forget her past and a Western girl focused on the promises of the future. (amazon.com)
Cloud of sparrows by Takashi Matsuoka
[This] magnificent...novel, set amid the violence and beauty of nineteenth-century Japan, takes us beyond the epic tradition of James Clavell's Shogun and into a majestic realm of samurai and geishas, ninjas and Zen masters. Brilliantly imagined, gloriously written, Cloud of Sparrows is at once a sweeping historical adventure and a love story of almost unbearable poignancy. (catalog summary)
Geisha by Liza Crihfield Dalby
In this classic bestseller, Liza Dalby, the only non-Japanese ever to have trained as a geisha, offers an insider's look at the exclusive world of female companions and the Japanese male elite. Her new preface considers the geisha today as a vestige of tradition as Japan heads into the 21st century. 62 photos/illustrations. (catalog summary) This is a nonfiction offering.
The Fox Woman by Kij Johnson
In a novel set in medieval Japan, a young fox kit becomes enamored with a Japanese nobleman and will stop at nothing, even magic and sorcery, to win his heart.
The Ginger Tree by Oswald Wynd
In 1903, a young Scotswoman named Mary Mackenzie sets sail for China to marry her betrothed, a military attache iin Peking. But soon after her arrival, Mary falls into an adulterous affair with a young Japanese nobleman, scandalizing the British community. Casting her out of the European community, her compatriots tear her away from her small daughter. A woman abandoned and alone, Mary learns to survive over forty tumultuous years in Asia, including two world wars and the cataclysmic Tokyo earthquake of 1923.
The pearl diver : a novel by Jeff Talarigo
This unusual debut novel set in 1940s postwar Japan renders brutality and intolerance in quiet, lyrical prose. When a 19-year-old pearl diver, the youngest of a crew working the Seto Inland Sea, discovers she is sick with leprosy, she is banished to Nagashima, an island leprosarium, where she is told to change her name and forget her past. Nagashima is its own kind of civilization, where the renamed "Miss Fuji" must care for the sicker patients, which includes helping the island doctors perform forced, often late-term abortions. Treated with drugs that make her isolation unnecessary, Miss Fuji remains healthy ("she has only the two spots on her body.... Medals or curses, she isn't sure how to wear them"), but she is still not permitted to leave and remains a captive for most of her life. Drawing from actual medical history, Talarigo succeeds in telling a compelling story whose strength is its elegant simplicity. (Publishers Weekly)
Snow country by Yasunari Kawabata ; translated by Edward G. Seidensticker
With the brushstroke suggestiveness and astonishing grasp of motive that won him the Nobel Prize for Literature, Yasunari Kawabata tells a story of wasted love set amid the desolate beauty of western Japan, the snowiest region on earth. It is there, at an isolated mountain hotspring, that the wealthy sophisticate Shimamura meets the geisha Komako, who gives herself to him without regrets, knowing that their passion cannot last. Shimamura is a dilettante of the feelings; Komako has staked her life on them. Their affair can have only one outcome. Yet, in chronicling its doomed course, one of Japan's greatest modern writers creates a novel dense in implication and exalting in its sadness. (catalog summary)
Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See
Lily at 80 reflects on her life, beginning with her "daughter days" in 19th-century rural China. Foot-binding was practiced by all but the poorest families, and the graphic descriptions of it are not for the fainthearted. Yet women had nu shu, their own secret language. At the instigation of a matchmaker, Lily and Snow Flower, a girl from a larger town and supposedly from a well-connected, wealthy family, become laotong, bound together for life. Even after Lily learns that Snow Flower is not from a better family, even when Lily marries above her and Snow Flower beneath her, they remain close, exchanging nu shu written on a fan.
The tale of Genji; a novel in six parts by Lady Murasaki.
Translated from the Japanese by Arthur Waley
In the Heian period, Prince Genji associates with a variety of court women. (NoveList). Considered to be the first novel ever written. I really, really enjoyed this book!
The tale of Murasaki : a novel by Liza Dalby
A fictional biography of Murasaki Shikibu, author of The Tale of Genji, the most famous tale in Japanese literature. As children, Murasaki and a friend made up stories about an imaginary lover, Genji. Fascinated by her father's descriptions of life at court, she later began writing romantic tales centered around the "shining prince.'' The young woman has intimate relationships with both women and men, but marries her father's choice, an older gentleman of means. She is widowed soon after the birth of their daughter. Her fame as a storyteller and her friendship with the regent's daughter lead to her appointment as lady-in-waiting to the empress; she is also a courtesan, as is expected of those serving in the imperial household. After a number of years at court, with her daughter established as a lady-in-waiting, the writer
withdraws to a mountain retreat and lives the life of a Buddhist nun. The novel is based on the existing fragments of Shikibu's diary and on her poetry, written in a style similar to haiku, which is included in the text in both English and Japanese. (Molly Connally, School Library Journal)