Memoirs of A Geisha

I can’t say I’m proud that I paid only 50 cents for my Memoirs of a Geisha. I got it at a thrift shop during a strange moment in my life. It was right at the beginning of a summer that marked the end of a hard and painful spring semester. The nightmare was over, and I was ready to turn my back on philosophy and high-brow novels. I just wanted a novel I could read for the juice of the story and nothing more. A novel of pure lovely nothings. Reading Memoirs of Geisha was that and a bit more. It was like I went in for the story but also found a world.

Memoirs of a Geisha is an underdog story about a village girl who finds herself in a big city and ends up making a name for herself.  At some point,  Chiyo, the girl with the beautiful grey eyes, dares to fall in love. But she lives in a world where love counts for nothing because everything about a girl–from her smile to her virginity–has a price tag. The novel is also just a girlie girl’s affair, and that’s one thing I love about it. Lots of dressing up. Lots of flirting. And a little bit of sex for sale.  But all the sex work gets lost in brightly colored kimonos, hour-long make up sessions, elegant hairdos, late night tea parties, and witty conversations with horny men. Honestly, I would’ve liked to see more sex. But I guess the novel is more about the art and politics of sex than it is about sex.

I don’t know how good it is. I haven’t seen it. But there’s a movie version in case you want to skip the novel all together.




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I'm finishing up a phd at Duke University where I study African novels, which I believe are some of the loveliest things ever written. Brittle Paper is the virtual space/station where I play and experiment with ideas on how to reinvent African fiction and literary culture.

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