Geishas, Wives, and Concubines

Autobiography of a Geisha

By Sayo Masuda

Go to catalog
Masuda is 78 now. When she was 12, she was sold to a geisha house in the hot springs resort of Suwa. Her memoir, first written in 1956-57, has none of the glamour or intrigue of other recent accounts of geishas, and is subtitled Half a Lifetime of Pain and Struggle.
Reserve this title

Becoming Madame Mao

By Anchee Min

Go to catalog
"Madame Mao is almost universally known as the "white-boned demon" -- ambitious, vindictive, and cruel -- whose bid to succeed her husband led to the death of millions. But Min's story begins with a young girl named Yunhe, the unwanted daughter of a concubine who ignored her mother's pleas and refused to have her feet bound. It was the first act of rebellion for this headstrong, beautiful, and charismatic girl. She later fled the miseries of her family life, first to a provincial opera troupe, then to Shanghai and fame as an actress, and finally to the arid, mountainous regions of Yenan, where she fell in love with and married Mao Zedong. The great revolutionary leader proved to be an inattentive husband with a voracious appetite for infidelity, but the couple stayed together through the Communist victory, the disastrous Great Leap Forward, and the chaos of the Cultural Revolution."
Reserve this title

Bittersweet

By Leslie Li

Go to catalog
"...tells the life story of Li Xuewen, wife of the first democratically elected vice president of China, who began her life as the unwanted fourth daughter of a peasant farmer and rose in prestige and fortune to become the number one wife of a brilliant military hero. Her story reveals a scope of history and changes in Chinese culture that few Westerners have glimpsed. Inspired by the events of her grandmother's life, the author engages the reader in an engrossing novel about love and war, and the indomitable spirit of a woman determined to keep her family and self-respect intact."
Reserve this title

Cloud of Sparrows

By Takashi Matsuoka

Go to catalog
Set amid the violence and beauty of 19th century Japan, Matsuoka takes readers beyond the epic tradition of James Clavell's "Shogun" and into a majestic realm of samurai and geishas, ninjas and Zen masters.
Reserve this title

Fox Girl

By Nora Okja Keller

Go to catalog

Set in the aftermath of the Korean War, Fox Girl is the story of its forgotten victims, the abandoned children of American GIs who live in a world where life is about survival.

Reserve this title

Geisha: The Life, the Voices, the Art

By Jodi Cobb

Go to catalog
Jodi Cobb is a staff photographer at National Geographic who has produced more than twenty articles for the magazine. Her work has appeared in many books, including several in the A Day in the Life of . . . series. She was the first woman named White House Photographer of the Year and has been the recipient of numerous awards from the National Press Photographers Association. Ms. Cobb's photographs have been exhibited at the International Center of Photography and the Corcoran Gallery of Art. Here, she takes on the elusive world of the geisha.
Reserve this title

Imperial Woman

By Pearl S. Buck

Go to catalog
"...the fictionalized biography of the last Empress in China, Ci-xi, who began as a concubine of the Xianfeng Emperor and on his death became the de facto head of the Qing Dynasty until her death in 1908.Buck recreates the life of one of the most intriguing rulers during a time of intense turbulence.Tzu Hsi was born into one of the lowly ranks of the Imperial dynasty. According to custom, she moved to the Forbidden City at the age of seventeen to become one of hundreds of concubines. But her singular beauty and powers of manipulation quickly moved her into the position of Second Consort.Tzu Hsi was feared and hated by many in the court, but adored by the people. The Empress's rise to power (even during her husband's life) parallels the story of China's transition from the ancient to the modern way."
Reserve this title

Kagami

By Elizabeth Kata

Go to catalog
A Japanese family saga begins in 1853, the year trade opened to the West, and follows three generations of Japanese as they struggle to balance their tradition with the influx of Western culture.
Reserve this title

Memoirs of a Geisha

By Arthur Golden

Go to catalog

"Sayuri's story begins in a poor fishing village in 1929, when, as a nine-year-old with unusual blue-gray eyes, she is taken from her home and sold into slavery to a renowned geisha house. Through her eyes, we see the decadent heart of Gion -- the geisha district of Kyoto -- with its marvelous teahouses and theaters, narrow back alleys, ornate temples, and artists' streets. And 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. But as World War II erupts and the geisha houses are forced to close, Sayuri, with little money and even less food, must reinvent herself all over again to find a rare kind of freedom on her own terms."

Reserve this title

My Father's Geisha

By James Gordon Bennett

Go to catalog

"This fresh, poignant first novel features two siblings who will capture readers's hearts in the manner of Salinger's Franny and Zooey. Army brats Teddy and Cora are constantly on the move from base to base with their warring parents. With their edgy intelligence and precocious charm, this duo jumps off the page and pulls readers into their hearts."

Reserve this title