March 23, Web posted at: p. CNN -- Though he's been termed an "overnight success," Arthur Golden's first novel, "Memoirs of a Geisha," came after 15 years of hard work. And that led me to write a novel about a geisha.
Memoirs of a Geisha is full of surprises, especially to Western readers unfamiliar with the mysterious Japanese geisha. Perhaps the biggest surprise, however, is the novel's author, an American man from Tennessee. Arthur Golden's fascination with Asian culture was sparked years before he began writing Memoirs of a Geishaas he holds degrees in Japanese history and art history with a specialization in Japanese art.
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The little Chiyo and her sister Satsu are sold by poor parents to Mr. Tanakawho gives Satsu to a whorehouse and Chiyo to the Nitta Okiyaa geisha house in Kyotowhere she meets the beautiful and cruel geisha, Hatsumomo. And we are not wives. We sell our skills, not our bodies.
Sayuri is Japanese. She is a woman. She lives in the Gion district of Kyoto, Japan.
THE geisha who was the main source for Arthur Golden's best-selling Memoirs of a Geisha has hit back at what she claims are slurs on her profession by releasing her own memoirs. Mineko Iwasaki, now 52 and in retirement, published her book in Japan in order to dispel the idea that geisha are prostitutes, as she claims the original work had suggested. Memoirs of a Geisha portrays the struggle of Sayuri, a young girl, to become a geisha.
The fact that a male American writer could so intimately elucidate a traditionally closed and secretive society was considered a major literary feat. How, many asked at the time, could this be? Breaking with long tradition, she agreed to be interviewed by Golden, who spent two weeks at her Kyoto home in