Memoirs of a geisha is a novel by Arther Golden, published in 1997 and then a movie release in 2005.
The story is about a geisha of Kyoto before World war II.
Readers experience the entire life of a geisha, from her origins in the fishing-village of Yoroido (fictional name) on the coast of the Sea of Japan. She is an orphaned girl in 1929 to her triumphant auction of her mizuage (virginity) for a record price as a teenager to her reminiscent old age as the distinguished mistress of the powerful patron of her dreams. We discover that a geisha is more analogous to a Western "trophy wife" than to a prostitute--and, as in Austen, flat-out prostitution and early death is a woman's alternative to the repressive, arcane system of courtship. In simple, elegant prose, Golden puts us right in the tearoom with the geisha; we are there as she gracefully fights for her life in a social situation where careers are made or destroyed by a witticism, a too-revealing (or not revealing enough) glimpse of flesh under the kimono, or a vicious rumor spread by a rival "as cruel as a spider."
In 2005, the novel was adapted by Robin Swicord for a movie directed by Rob Marshall. The film was awarded 3 Oscars, one for the 'Best Achievement in Art Direction', one for the 'Best Achievement in Cinematography' and one for the 'Best Achievement in Costume Design'.
After the Japanese edition of Memoirs of a Geisha was published, Arthur Golden was sued for breach of contract and defamation of character by Mineko Iwasaki, a retired geisha he had interviewed for background information while writing the novel. The plaintiff asserted that Golden had agreed to protect her anonymity, due to the traditional code of silence about their clients, if she told him about her life as a geisha. However, Golden listed Iwasaki as a source in his acknowledgments for the novel.
In 2003, Golden's publisher settled with Iwasaki out of court for an undisclosed sum of money.
Iwasaki later went on to write her own autobiography, an account vastly different from Arthur Golden's novel, published as Geisha, A Life in the U.S. and Geisha of Gion in the UK.