One Hundred and One Ways by Mako Yoshikawa (Hardcover)
"Whether I like it or not, the lives of my mother and my grandmother are the stars by which I chart my course," observes 26-year-old Kiki Takehashi, a graduate student in English at a university in New York. Kiki's lawyer boyfriend, Eric, has asked her to marry him. But Kiki is quite literally haunted by the love of her life, Philip, who died in a Nepalese avalanche. Philip's ghost now lingers in her apartment, never speaking, real yet ethereal, undermining her romance with Eric. Kiki's grandmother Yukiko, meanwhile, is coming to America. Sold at age 14 to keep her family in rice and pickled plums, Yukiko became a geisha: she spurned her daughter Akiko (Kiki's mother) when Akiko married, and the two have not met in 29 years. Now Yukiko is widowed, Akiko long divorced and Yukiko plans to make up with Akiko and meet her granddaughter, who yearns to ask Yukiko all about love and desire. Yoshikawa's elegant prose adds resonance to this exploration of mothers and daughters, husbands and lovers, sex and commitment, Japan and America. More ethnic than ethnographic, the novel lacks the exotic detail readers cherished in Arthur Golden's Memoirs of a Geisha. Instead, Yoshikawa offers a pensive, erotic, deeply moving tale of three women who must comprehend their pasts before they can move on into their converging futures. (May) FYI: Yoshikawa descends from a long line of samurai; her great-grandmother was a geisha.