Geishas, Wives, and Concubines

Intrigued by the lives of women in the Far East? Try these tales spanning from the 11th century to the present day, featuring the professional geisha--trained in the arts of conversation, music, and dance for the entertainment of men, and the wives and concubines of the powerful and wealthy.

The Lost Daughter of Happiness

By Geiling Yan

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An erotic tale of forbidden love between a Chinese prostitute and a Caucasian boy in turn-of-the-century San Francisco.
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Kagami

By Elizabeth Kata

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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.
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Geisha: The Life, the Voices, the Art

By Jodi Cobb

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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.
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Cloud of Sparrows

By Takashi Matsuoka

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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.
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Bittersweet

By Leslie Li

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"...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."
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Becoming Madame Mao

By Anchee Min

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"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."
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Autobiography of a Geisha

By Sayo Masuda

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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.
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