by Vandana Hiranand
Speaking to us with the wisdom of age and in a voice at once haunting and startlingly immediate, Nitta Sayuri tells the story of her life as a geisha. It begins in a poor fishing village in 1929, when, as a nine-year-old girl with unusual blue-gray eyes, she is taken from her home and sold into slavery to a renowned geisha house. 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.
An incredibly honest, real, and authentic story, Arthur Golden’s novel was an immediate bestseller across the globe. ‘Memoirs of a Geisha’ allows us to explore the traditions, customs, and rituals of Japan’s history and the intricate role of geishas in this complex web. While Golden’s book is heartbreaking and shocking, it is also fascinating and quite a page-turner.
The book provides the reader with much insight into this period of history and certainly builds up one’s curiosity with the tale of Nitta Sayuri. The true confessions and life story of one of Japan’s most celebrated geishas are completely mesmerizing. While it is a wonderful work of fiction, the narrator’s voice is startlingly honest, wise, and rather haunting. While following Sayuri’s journey, the reader will feel a deep personal attachment to the character and the need to find out where her story leads.