Synopses & Reviews
"I may have spent most of my life in New Jersey, but the blood of a geisha courses through me yet." So writes Mako Yoshikawa in this extraordinary debut novel which is sure to evoke comparisons to the works of Amy Tan and Alice Walker. One Hundred and One Ways is the story of a woman who, finding herself torn between two men and two cultures, turns for answers to an unknown Japanese grandmother, once a famous geisha.
If Kiki Takehashi's life is dramatically different from the one lived by her reserved Japanese-American mother, it is light-years away from that of her grandmother, whom she knows only through old family stories. Kiki has recently become engaged to Eric, a handsome, successful lawyer in New York City. But at the same time she is haunted--quite literally--by the memory of her friend Phillip, killed the previous year in a mountaineering accident.
As Kiki herself is well aware, her incessant mourning for Phillip--her love of a ghost--is endangering her chance at real-life happiness with Eric. Yet her relationship with Eric is also complicated by her fear that he is attracted to her only because of his erotic fascination with Asian women.
Kiki has never so much as met her grandmother, the woman for whom she is named. Still, thoroughly American though she is, she feels a secret kinship with the nearly legendary Yukiko, whose impoverished family sold her as a young girl to a geisha house. Kiki is swept up by the story of this strong, proud, passionate woman who, against all odds, in a time and place far different from her own, found the love that has so far eluded the rest of the Takehashi women.
For years, Kiki has collected questions to ask her grandmother--queries on subjects ranging from love, loss, and family to the myth of exoticism which hangs over Asian-American women and geishas alike. In the wake of Phillip's return as a ghost, Kiki awaits Yukiko's imminent visit to America with a renewed eagerness, trusting that this unknown woman will provide answers to the mysteries of her past and guide her on her way into the future.
Lyrical, haunting, and stunningly evocative, One Hundred and One Ways introduces a powerful and exciting new voice in contemporary fiction.
About the Author
Mako Yoshikawa has studied at Columbia and Oxford. A doctoral candidate in English literature at the University of Michigan, she lives in New York City. She will be a Bunting Fellow at Radcliffe College starting in September 1999.
She is the great-granddaughter of a geisha.