Liza Dalby

Liza Dalby is an anthropologist specializing in Japanese culture. In her first book, Geisha (1983), she drew on her experiences as a novice geisha to present the insider’s view of this world. As the only Westerner to have become a geisha, she became a consultant for Steven Spielberg’s film adaption of Arthur Golden’s Memoirs of a Geisha. The seed of her second book, Kimono, Fashioning Culture (1993), can be found in the kimono wardrobes that were of such importance to the geisha. Clothing and fashion offer an excellent window to view various aspects of society and culture. As part of the research for Kimono, Dalby was drawn into the descriptions of the clothing worn by the court ladies of the Heian period and the world of the Shining Prince Genji, the fictional creation of the genius of Murasaki Shikbu in The Tale of Genji. Thus began a decade-long struggle to break away from the conventions of fact-based expository writing to try to create convincing fiction. The Tale of Murasaki is the result.