Writing

I write genre-bending non-fiction that sits between memoir, ethnography, and biography. I also hold interest in fiction.

My first book is JAPANTHEM: Counter-Cultural Experiences, Cross-Cultural Remixes (Three Rooms Press, 2022). Part memoir and part ethnography (and loosely based on my doctoral thesis in ethnomusicology), this is the only book out there to juxtapose traditional, J-pop, and underground Japanese music at once– and the only book on Japanese underground written by a woman.

Some Official Reviews:

“In this illuminating debut, Marshall offers an outsider’s look into Japanese culture via its music . . . Throughout, her sharp observations are interspersed with moving moments of introspection, as when she quietly muses that Japan may be ‘the only place in the world… where my heart feels like it can rest.’ This transportive work is a thrilling escape.” Publishers Weekly
“Japanthem is a lively, sparkling, and very personal book, both about Japanese music and culture and about Marshall’s ambivalent relationship to academia. Born as a doctoral dissertation, the book couldn’t be further from the dry and scholarly reading experience of an academic book, which is the idea. Yet the author’s expertise and lived experience as a “researcher” figure centrally in the story she tells, and her knowledge of Japan’s musics, culture, media, and language. Part travel writing, part memoir, part ethnography, Japanthem immerses you in the author’s encounters with diverse facets of Japan and its music. The portrait of Japan that emerges is quirky, funny, and humane, both loving and, at times, appalled. Marshall closely observes Japanese musical culture and yet holds it at a certain distance, seen honestly through her outsider’s eyes. Throughout, Marshall’s writing crackles with wit and humor and emotional honesty, richly drawn characters and complicated situations.” Aaron A. Fox, Associate Professor of Music, Columbia University
“Jill Marshall’s writing is so utterly engaging . . . Her style reminds me of Molly Ivins at her most cutting and sarcastic and breathtakingly honest. Her methodology and her self-reflective authorial stance remind me of John Miller Chernoff’s African Rhythm and African Sensibility(University of Chicago Press, 1978). Or the “comedy of academic manners” of David Lodge’s The Campus Trilogy novels. Steven F. Pond, Associate Professor, Cornell University; author, Herbie Hancock’s Head Hunters: The Making of Jazz’s First Platinum Album
“Jillian Marshall is a kindred spirit: I too love Japan, music, and champion the bridging of academia with the public sphere. What a fun, accessible journey in a place considered too often, and incorrectly, as inscrutable.”  Nancy Snow, Senior Adviser, Kreab Tokyo, author, Japan’s Information War
Some unofficial reviews:

“I read the whole thing in one sitting”— six separate people, including a publisher that didn’t end up going with me (Thanks! Three Rooms Press is better for my purposes anyway) and my father

”I disagree with some of the choices you made, but I love you anyway” — my 94-year-old Great Aunt Skeet

Other publications:

Forthcoming Projects:

I have three new books in the works. The first — PhD Waitress: New York Dreams at a Brooklyn Italian Joint — is another pop-anthropological memoir about moving to New York in pursuit of dreams, fresh out of a doctorate, and working at a place so archetypical of Old Brooklyn that Martin Scorsese personally scouted it to film significant portions of The Irishman. The next is a biography/ethnography/theoretical primer cataloging the metaphysical and mathematical theories espoused by a well-known cult hero Brooklyn bartender. The third is a Japanese language textbook I’m thinking of putting together, tentatively titled How to Speak Japanese and Not Sound Like a Moron.

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