Fine China

Author chronicles the sophisticated life of Asian prostitutes in new book.

If you've seen the 2005 drama Memoirs of a Geisha, you're familiar with the elegance of Japanese hookers. When Chinese-born Mingmei Yip yaks about her novel, Peach Blossom Pavilion, in Lyndhurst tonight, she'll point out that the first geishas actually worked the streets 2,500 years ago in her homeland. "Geishas were called prestigious prostitutes in China," says Yip. "They had patrons who were very wealthy or highly ranked government officials." Yip's novel tells the tale of a 98-year-old ex-geisha, who recounts her past to her granddaughter. Chinese call girls, she says, were treated to etiquette training and beautiful clothes. "On the one hand, these women lived on the edge of society. No matter how rich and beautiful they were, they were still prostitutes," says Yip. "On the other hand, they were like the movie stars of their time." The book-signing starts at 7 tonight at Joseph-Beth Booksellers, 24519 Cedar Road in Lyndhurst. Admission is free. Call 216-691-7000 or visit
Thu., July 10, 7 p.m., 2008