Memoirs of A Geisha

There are some books and there are some books……..The other day I completed reading Memoirs of A Geisha finally. I started it the day I boarded on my flight to Mumbai via Kolkata and via Jaipur ( that’s the problem being a staff; you cannot but travel the route your airline flies!!) That’s a 7 hour flight. So the obvious option was to get a book .


But what a book. Though I could not finish it during that flight,( I was sleeping also you see).


Written by an American, Arthur Golden, the whole story is in first person. Such a lucid narrative, one actually believes that Golden had translated the book originally from Japanese. The story is told by Sayuri, who worked as a geisha in Kyoto, Japan before World War II. Even though Geishas are taken to be prostitutes, they were much more than mere prostitutes during their hayday.


Chiyo, the beautiful daughter of a poor fishing family is sold to an Okiya or a house for geisha in Gion. Her elder sister is sold to a “house of pleasure “as a prostitute.  Chiyo is hated by the only Geisha on the Okiya during that time, the beautiful but hateful Hatsomomo. The arrogant Hatsumomo recognises Chiyo's potential and is upset at any hint of competition. Because of that Chiyo is redused to a housemaid of the Okiya. But as fate had it , an encounter with the wealthy and benevolent Chairman changes her luck. Mameha , the best Geihsa of Gion during that time takes Chiyo as her younger sister and trains her to become a Geisha like herself. Chiyo becomes Nitta Sayuri, one of the most successful and highly regarded Geisha of Japan .


The story as unfolds chapter after chapter , opens new doors to a world so unknown but  so fascinating and striking. It is an account of the time in Japan when a girls virginity was sold to the highest bidder ( Mizuage, as they would call the “ceremony “) , the time just before World War II. The novelist weaves the story in such a way that the thin line between fiction and reality gets thinner. 


The book is made to a wonderful movie by Rob Marshall ( Chicago). But my personal opinion is that the book is more fascinating , more striking and more heartwarming.


One Comment

  1. I haven't read the book, but I have seen the movie…..the story is really good…

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