From Akutagawa Prize-winning author Kiyoko Murata comes a dazzling historical novel about the courtesans whose strike brought down a red-light district
‘Only Kiyoko Murata can convey this world’ YOKO OGAWA, author of The Memory Police, Yomiuri Shibun
The year is 1903, and tenacious and spirited Aoi Ichi is sold to the most exclusive brothel in Kumamoto, Japan, becoming the protégée of Shinonome, the oiran, or the highest-ranking courtesan.
Through Shinonome’s teachings, fifteen-year-old Ichi begins to understand the intertwined power of sex and money. Education for a courtesan extends beyond the art of seduction, and as Ichi is taught to read and write she develops a voice that refuses to be dampened by the brothel’s rigid hierarchy.
Outside the cloistered world of the red-light district, rumours of local worker strikes grow, and as the seasons change in Kumamoto, Ichi, Shinonome and their fellow courtesans begin to wonder how they might redistribute the power and wealth of the brothels among themselves.
Critically acclaimed veteran writer Kiyoko Murata creates in stunning detail the harsh yet vibrant lives of women in a red-light district at the turn of the twentieth century. Based on real-life events, A Woman of Pleasure is a testament to the bonds between women and the power of owning one’s language and freedom.
‘Even though A Woman of Pleasure exposes the brutal life of sex workers, a dynamic optimism runs throughout the book. Only Kiyoko Murata can convey this world‘ – Yoko Ogawa, author of The Memory Police, Yomiuri Shibun
‘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
Kiyoko Murata (Author)
KIYOKO MURATA has been awarded over ten major literary awards in Japan, including the Akutagawa Prize. A Woman of Pleasure is her first book to be published in English. She lives in Fukuoka, Japan.
Juliet Winters Carpenter (Translator)
JULIET WINTERS CARPENTER is a distinguished translator of Japanese literature whose work has received numerous awards. She lives with her husband on Whidbey Island in Washington State.