Synopses & Reviews
"I have spent most of my life in New Jersey, but the blood of a geisha courses through me yet."
If Kiki Takehashi's life is dramatically different from that of 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 New York City lawyer. 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.
Kiki has never met her grandmother Yukiko, for whom she is named. Still, thoroughly American though she is, she feels a secret kinship with her. 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, was sold by her impoverished family, became a famous geisha, and found the love that has so far eluded the rest of the Takehashi women.
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 University and Oxford. She has been the Vera M. Schuyler Fellow of Creative Writing at the Bunting Institute at Harvard University, and she is a doctoral candidate in English literature at the University of Michigan. Her great-grandmother was a geisha.
Reading Group Guide
The questions, discussion topics, and author biography that follow are intended to enhance your reading of Mako Yoshikawa's One Hundred and One Ways
. We hope they will enrich your experience of this wonderful novel.
1. Even if Phillip had come back, would he have been able to stay with Kiki? Was the idea of the inevitability of their parting part of what makes their relationship so romantic?
2. How does the fact that there are no real obstacles between Kiki and Eric make her feel about their relationship?
3. Why did the author wait until the very end to let us know that Kiki and Phillip had a "last encounter?" What does she try to do by holding on to this detail?
4. What, in the end, convinces Kiki to move on with her life and open up to people again?
5. What is the main conflict in the mother/daughter relationships in this book: between Kiki's grandmother and mother, and between her mother and Kiki?
6. Why did stories of Kiki's grandmother and her family hold such importance for Kiki?
7. The meeting of Kiki and her grandmother would have been a very dramatic climax for the book--it's what the book was leading up to. Why does the author choose not to have that happen?
Included in the web version only.
Does Eric take Kiki's needs seriously? Is this important to Kiki? Why or why not?
Is the idea of not recovering after the loss of a husband/boyfriend a romantic one for Kiki?
Why did her father leave--and stay out of touch with Kiki?