In the early 1990s, at the watershed age of thirty, Marilyn Abildskov decided she needed to start over. She accepted an offer to move from Utah to Matsumoto, Japan, to teach English to junior high school students. “All I knew is that I had to get away and when I stared at my name on the Japanese contract, the squiggles of katakana, my name typed in English sturdily beneath, I liked how it looked. As if it—as if I—were translated, transformed, ...
See more details below
The Men in My Country

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • NOOK HD/HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK Study
  • NOOK for Web

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook)
BN.com price
(Save 44%)$29.95 List Price


In the early 1990s, at the watershed age of thirty, Marilyn Abildskov decided she needed to start over. She accepted an offer to move from Utah to Matsumoto, Japan, to teach English to junior high school students. “All I knew is that I had to get away and when I stared at my name on the Japanese contract, the squiggles of katakana, my name typed in English sturdily beneath, I liked how it looked. As if it—as if I—were translated, transformed, emerging now as someone new.”

The Men in My Country is the story of an American woman living and loving in Japan. Satisfied at first to observe her exotic surroundings, the woman falls in love with the place, with the light, with the curve of a river, with the smell of bonfires during obon, with blue and white porcelain dishes, with pencil boxes, and with small origami birds. Later, struggling for a deeper connection—“I wanted the country under my skin”—Abildskov meets the three men who will be part of her transformation and the one man with whom she will fall deeply in love.

A travel memoir offering an artful depiction of a very real place, The Men in My Country also covers the terrain of a complex emotional journey, tracing a geography of the heart, showing how we move to be moved, how in losing ourselves in a foreign place we can become dangerously—and gloriously—undone.
Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Abildskov, a graduate of the University of Iowa Writers Program and now a teacher in California, traveled to Japan a decade ago to find new direction and meaning in her life. While teaching English to school children for two years, she pursued affairs with three somewhat reluctant men: two Japanese and an Iranian. Her focus is clearly on herself, but she skillfully, and with some frankness, chronicles her emotional roller coaster ride through cultural and language barriers (neither of which she really overcomes). Most books of this nature have traditionally been by Western men coming under the spell of Asian women, so in this regard Abildskov's account is refreshing. Introspective, perceptively cross-cultural, poignant, and sometimes funny, this is ultimately a tale of disappointment in the search for love and good reading for those embarking on a similar search. For larger public libraries.-Harold M. Otness, formerly of Southern Oregon Univ. Lib., Ashland Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Finely wrought though often self-conscious memoir of the author's fulfilling sojourn in Japan, where she met three men who completed her sense of belonging. Needing a change at 30, Abildskov left her native Utah in the early 1990s for an assignment to teach English at three junior high schools in Matsumoto. It proved to be much more than a career move. She found herself entranced by everything Japanese: the blue-and-white dishes she used, the holidays devoted to looking, even the pencil boxes-"I loved living in a place where people carried writing supplies in small, tidy bundles made of straw or plastic or metal or wood." But, she writes, "I wanted to go deeper, I wanted to go inside the country's mind, I wanted the country under my skin." To complete her love affair with Japan, apparently, she needed to fall in love with the men who lived there. As Abildskov records her experiences teaching English to businessmen as well as teenagers, she also describes three men she met who enabled her finally to understand Japan more completely. First up was the professor, who spoke excellent English, and he and Abildskov felt a mutual attraction, but she backed off when she realized he was married, though they continued to meet in coffee shops. The second, a young Iranian named Amir, took care of her at a vulnerable time; the third, Nozaki, was the one she fell in love with. Nozaki stood out among the businessmen who attended her classes: he was more of a loner, read widely, and was interested in ideas (the others wanted to talk only about sex and golf). He was also single, and the two began an intense affair. Abildskov was tempted to stay on, but Nozaki, a complex man, was not easily pinned down. Oneof those travel stories that reveals a heart as smitten with the place as the people. Agent: Neeti Madan/Sterling Lord Literistic
From the Publisher

“In this exquisite travel memoir, Marilyn Abildskov unpacks her bags and allows herself to be transformed by all she tastes and touches in Japan: the persimmons, pencil boxes, origami birds, and men—three in particular. The result is an intimate, sensual portrait of a woman and a place. I was enthralled and transported from start to finish.”—Natalia Rachel Singer, author of Scraping By in the Big Eighties

“Marilyn Abildskov is a writer of sheer beauty and rare atmosphere. Each word feels hand-carved from the broken shards of her own life. The Men in My Country is a pathway into longing ‘for ordinary love, for ordinary joy.’ We are brought into soulful dialogue regarding the nature of wanting versus the nature of needing. Japan becomes a rich landscape of love and we accept this exquisite book as the gift of experience. When T. S. Eliot speaks of transient beauty born out of sorrow, he was foreshadowing the writing of Marilyn Abildskov.”—Terry Tempest Williams, author of Refuge, Leap, and Red: Passion and Patience in the Desert

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781587295126
  • Publisher: University of Iowa Press
  • Publication date: 9/1/2004
  • Series: Sightline Books
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 166
  • File size: 2 MB

Meet the Author

Marilyn Abildskov’s stories, essays, and poems have appeared in such magazines as Black Warrior Review, Fourth Genre, Alaska Quarterly Review, and Quarterly West. She has an MFA from the University of Iowa, lives in Berkeley, California, and teaches at Saint Mary’s College in Moraga.
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)