This book is the perfect example of what is wrong with PoC (people of colour) representation in literature today.
As a novel, in its entirety it is nothing more than an atrocious regurgitation of Memoirs of a Geisha; a book, while written by a Westerner, was properly researched & historically accurate for the most part. Golden studied Japanese culture & history with dedication & wrote Memoirs. Is it perfect? No. But I will give him credit for trying to offer accurate portrayals of the culture, history, & characters he wrote about. This novel, The Geisha with the Green Eyes, is nothing more than a narrative that has taken small morsels of information acquired via media outlets & an extremely vague interest in Japanese culture, slammed it all together with crude sexual elements to create a fan-fiction version of Golden’s novel. There is the usage of Japanese words & phrases throughout the novel, most of which aren’t defined. The ones that are defined are done so in such a jarringly abrupt means that it disturbs the flow of the overall story. Otherwise if you aren’t familiar with the Japanese language, then you essentially have to just wing it going forward; hope that you can decipher it via context, if there’s context.
Putting aside its similarities to Geisha, it’s not even well-written. The plot barely moves forward until the very last bit, where it’s excruciatingly rushed & incomplete. The romance is also extremely lacking, & only offers some sexual interactions that could be construed as the most interesting parts, but even those feel like they are tossed together without much consideration.
There is an author’s note in the very beginning that makes an attempt at offering the readers some information about Japanese history, such as information about Kabuki theatre, yet there were no acknowledgements to show where these “facts” came from. I’ve taken many classes on Japanese history, & read numerous books about it, as it’s a field I’m making a career out of, & a couple of the “facts” she offered are very incorrect. I’m not an expert, & I won’t claim to be, but when these “facts” were discussed with an actual specialist in the field, it further validated the inaccuracies.
I don’t have a problem with people who just want to write a novel for fun. If you want to write something because you have an idea in your mind, then write it. But if you’re going to represent a culture & history of a certain race of people without the intent for accurate adumbration, then please provide a blatant disclaimer saying so. Don’t say in your Author’s Note that everything is “loosely” based off history then proceed to provide the audience with historical facts that are in truth terribly wrong.
As far why I believe literature like this is “what is wrong with PoC representation in literature today” is because without the appropriate disclaimers, information, & acknowledgements there are plenty of folks who will pick up a title like this & assume that all of the information is correct. An assumption will be made that this type of novel is an embodiment of the people & culture it’s talking about. There is enough misguided illustrations of PoC people in literature today that is leaving the door wide open for ridiculous stereotypes & offensive tropes already. We really don’t need to add to it.
**I was provided with a free copy in exchange for an honest review.**