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Extended Audio Sample Memoirs of A Geisha, by Arthur Golden Click for printable size audiobook cover
4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 4.00 (779,243 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Arthur Golden Narrator: Bernadette Dunne Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: July 2000 ISBN: 9780739300572
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Ever since its publication in 1997, American writer Arthur Golden's best-selling novel, "Memoirs of a Geisha" has captured the imagination of both men and women who want to know more about what has been and remains a deeply mysterious cultural tradition in Japan -- that of the Geisha.

As part of his research, Golden convinced retired geisha Mineka Iwasaki of Japan to talk to him openly about her former profession. Although since the book's publication, Iwasaki has brought lawsuit against the author and the publishers for what she calls defamation of character, Golden continues to call the book a novel and doesn't make claims about how true many of the incidents and traditions in the book actually are.

Nevertheless, the end result is a wonderfully detailed, intimate account of a young girl growing up in a somewhat impoverished family and being "sold into the geisha world" to an older male and entry into the profession, with all its secrets and cultural traditions.

Whether the geisha traditions are ones of secrecy or simple discretion, what draws in readers and listeners is that it takes them on a detailed odyssey of a young girl's passage from innocence into adulthood as she learns about womanhood and being an ideal companion to a member of the opposite sex. The male is usually much older, wiser and wealthy enough to be able to keep a geisha, especially one who is highly desirable, as the protagonist of this work clearly is.

Geishas are far more than sexual partners, although one aspect of the geisha tradition involves the "mizuage," a type of coming-of-age ceremony in which the apprentice geisha's virginity is auctioned off to the most deserving, often highest-paying, male. Geishas are more aptly akin to skilled hostesses, proficient in music, dance, conversation, games and ways of entertaining. They accompany their rich and powerful companions to exclusive restaurants and tea houses, and often develop long-term relationships with those who value their accomplishments.

"Memoirs of a Geisha" is told from the first-person point of view of a young girl named Sayuri. This perspective adds to the verisimilitude of the work, making the book come to life for the listener.

Arthur Golden was born in 1956 in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Members of his family were owners of the New York Times, so he has extensive background in publishing. He received an art degree from Harvard with an emphasis in Japanese art. He went on to study Japanese history, earning an M.A. in Japanese history at Columbia University.

Golden's interest in Japanese culture and traditions led him to researching and writing on the Geisha tradition.

"Memoirs of a Geisha" spent two years on the New York Times Bestseller List and has sold over five million copies in English. The 2005 movie based on the novel won three Academy Awards.

Speaking to us with the wisdom of age and in a voice at once haunting and immediate, Nitta Sayuri tells the story of her life as a geisha. 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. It concludes with World War II when the geisha houses are forced to close and Sayuri reinvents herself and finds a rare kind of freedom on her own terms.

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Quotes & Awards

  • Nominated for the Barnes & Noble Discover Award

Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Aarchana Bulathsinghala | 2/20/2014

    " Watched the movie a couple of years earlier and it didn't make much of an impression on me. The book totally sucked me in from page one. Going to read Mineko Iwasaki's version before I can make my mind up about the authenticity of it's contents. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jackie Mathews | 2/20/2014

    " It was such a lovely story. I had started reading it not knowing what to expect, and I devoured it all. I now know why everyone likes it so much. :) "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Nicole Cannell | 2/18/2014

    " I Loved this book. Loved the whole story "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mireille | 2/10/2014

    " very beautifully written - loved it "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jihane Tannouch | 2/9/2014

    " Do you know that feeling when you have just finished a book you adored but you just can't figure out how to express that on your review? Well that's exactly what happened to me . this book is just epic , i've read it twice , & i'm so going to re-read it again , ! "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Alina NeacÅŸu | 2/1/2014

    " it was a new perspective of the Japanese world. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Diane V-R | 1/27/2014

    " A exquisite and vivid memoir. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Ronkohai | 1/25/2014

    " This was the very first english novel that I read, in the days where I was obsessed with the Japanese culture, Arthur Golden did a great job summing up and bringing to us the wonderful yet deadly world of the Geisha. great choice of words and a beautiful way to put words together. Magical "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kelly Fugard | 1/22/2014

    " Amazing read I found. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Clare Sherry | 1/17/2014

    " I found this book a bit slow to start but once the plot began to pick up pace, I felt myself immersed in Sayuri's story. I found myself getting very irritated with a lot of the characters and felt the ending was a bit vague and lacklustre but I would recommend this book. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kelly | 1/7/2014

    " Absolutely fantasic. Sad, joyful and beautiful "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Nathalie Boucry | 1/6/2014

    " Too good! Unputdownable! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Amy | 12/18/2013

    " I actually really enjoyed this. It kept me interested and wanting to read it even when I didn't have a lot of time. I have also never seen this movie but plan to rent it now. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Karen Janulewicz | 12/18/2013

    " A wonderful read. Beautifully written prose. I loved the story, read it many years ago and still remember it. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Luisana Fuster | 12/17/2013

    " fantastic... i will read it again someday! =) "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kyle | 12/11/2013

    " An elegant coming of age story giving a new perspective into a culture that so frequently isn't embraced for the nuances of the social and cultural variety within such a small country. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Carly Eacker | 12/4/2013

    " A wonderful story of personal change and overcoming adversity to reach your goals. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Laura Duquette | 12/4/2013

    " One of my all time favorites, can read and reread many times... "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Mónica Vieira | 11/13/2013

    " A great inspiration, I draw her everyday. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Inas Ayman | 10/15/2013

    " brilliant, thoroughly entertaining "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 David | 8/27/2013

    " It was ok, just ok. Overall the story line good but it was too drawn out. Seemed like so much repeat of similar scenes just to get a new development. I guess it was kind of like a soap opera type story. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jazmin Davies | 8/21/2013

    " A wonderful book, which could have been much more interesting if it had more basis in reality. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Anna B. | 12/12/2012

    " Wonderfully written. Took my imagination to a place i've never been to in reality but was able to picture just from the words. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Bally | 10/14/2012

    " A truly magnificent book your sink into the book as if its you. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Tory Hunz | 9/4/2012

    " Enjoyable, if a little slow, with an intriguing look inside the lives of geisha. If the author's claim to the amount of research he did is true, it paid off because some parts are highly detailed. Worth reading "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Alta Schlemmer | 9/2/2012

    " Fantastic book. Have read little on the subject of geisha girls but took away an interesting perspective of them. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Abby | 4/4/2012

    " read this many moons ago and loved it! time for a reread! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Colleen Ostberg | 1/26/2012

    " This book opened my eyes to the lives of women in Japanese culture during the time when geisha's were acceptable in that society. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Melanie | 10/27/2011

    " Such a beautiful read. I was consumed by it and I have to admit the closer I got to the end the less I read because I didn't want it to end. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Colette | 6/30/2011

    " This one has stuck with me. Great story with an exotic setting. I felt immersed in another culture. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Hazel | 6/29/2011

    " I loved this book. The voice of Surayi is so amazing - accepting, matter-of-fact but full of poignancy. How could one girl endure so much heartache? I knew pretty much nothing about geisha so found the detail fascinating. Worthy of a blog on my website - coming soon! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Hana | 6/28/2011

    " I read this book over a dozen times. I loved it so much. It took me to an exotic ride down an oriental rabbit hole where love and lust collide. This is a must read. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Fatcheeks | 6/27/2011

    " I don't really remember the movie(mainly because I had the stomach flu and couldn't grasp what was going on around me) but I think the book is a lot better than the movie.
    He had waaayyy to many metaphors. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Laura | 6/27/2011

    " Loved the book and the images throughout the story. Great insight into the life of a geisha. Got deleted from my list and had to add back! One of my favorites! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Melissa | 6/27/2011

    " This will always be one of my all-time favorite books. I have to re-read it every few years. Each time, there is a new aspect of the journey that catches hold of my heart. A brilliant book with writing that is both poignant and lyrical. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Mimy | 6/27/2011

    " The whole plot of this book is pretty creepy. Geishas aren't prostitutes but they still auction off their virginities to the highest bidders? Downright disturbing... "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Yulya | 6/25/2011

    " Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden is a book that full of emotions. It makes you fell excitement, grieve, sympathy, very emotional and full of ups and downs. Truly fascinating book, it makes you wondering whether true love exists or if it is just a beautiful illusion.
    -Yulya Roesdy- "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 NoLabels | 6/23/2011

    " perchè continuo ad essere così scettica verso i contemporanei? :/
    "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kerry | 6/21/2011

    " A breath taking experience, into the life of Geishas "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Swaleha | 6/21/2011

    " Amazing novel amazing movie. Love it! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Heather | 6/20/2011

    " This book pulled me in right away. I really enjoyed learning about the Japanese culture, but especially about the Geisha lifestyle. Even though I didn't agree with the main character's choice at the end, I still found it to be a great read. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Beth | 6/19/2011

    " Probably too advanced for me - all I remember is that I had to will myself to read it. "

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