A Woman of Pleasure

A Novel

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On Sale: | $17.95

9781640095793 | Paperback 5-1/2 x 8-1/4 | 320 pages Buy it Now

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9781640095809 | Ebook | 320 pages Buy it Now

Book Description

An unforgettable novel of fearless women banding together to pursue the lives they want, inspired by the real-life historic Japanese courtesan strike

In 1903, a fifteen-year-old girl named Aoi Ichi is sold to the most exclusive brothel in Kumamoto, Japan. Despite her modest beginnings in a southern fishing village, she becomes the protégée of an oiran, the highest-ranking courtesan at the brothel. Through the teachings of her oiran, Shinonome, Ichi begins to understand the intertwined power of sex and money. And in her mandatory school lessons, her writing instructor, Tetsuko, encourages Ichi and the others to think clearly and express themselves. By banding together, the women organize a strike and walk away from the brothel and into the possibility of new lives.

Based on real-life events in Meiji-era Japan, award-winning and critically acclaimed veteran writer Kiyoko Murata re-creates in stunning detail the brutal yet vibrant lives of women in the red-light district at the turn of the twentieth century—the bond they share, the survival skills they pass down, and the power of owning one’s language.

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Praise For This Book

Bookshop, A Most Anticipated Title of the Year

"Kiyoko Murata's A Woman of Pleasure is proof that a novel can opt for clarity without sacrificing complexity . . . [I]t is at once a detailed character study, a beautifully researched work of historical fiction, and a plain declaration of both women's rights and workers' rights . . . A Woman of Pleasure is brisk but lyrical, moving but unsentimental . . . A Woman of Pleasure has become an ode to self-determination—physical and intellectual both." —Lily Meyer, NPR

"This immersive chronicle will move readers." —Publishers Weekly

"Murata crafts a powerful story with universal themes, and her deep knowledge of history and culture illuminates the impossible situation women were forced to navigate . . . [T]his will be a valuable addition to historical-fiction collections." —Cate Triola, Library Journal

"The experiences of a country girl sold into prostitution in 1903 lay bare the established system and financial exploitation of the Japanese pleasure industry . . . A precise portrait of sexual enslavement." —Kirkus Reviews

"Vivid, humane, and fresh, Murata’s compelling tale of youth, sisterhood and society’s treatment of women sings in Winter-Carpenter’s translation." —Polly Barton, author of Fifty Sounds

"With crystalline economy precisely calibrated to a world where money, beauty, power, and the lifeforce of women are measured against the value of pleasure and exchanged for survival, Kiyoko Murata's novel comes alive with exacting force. Reading A Woman of Pleasure is like walking into the stratified rooms of Shinonome vibrant with a kaleidoscopic range of perspectives, each drawn with such nuance and sensitivity that they held me as captive as the changing, patriarchal world of early 1900s Japan held this community of women and girls. A marvel." ––Asako Serizawa, winner of the PEN/Open Book Award and author of Inheritors