By Marie Mutsuki Mockett

(Graywolf, March 19, 2024)

Most Anticipated Book for 2024:

Oprah Daily

The Washington Post

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Kirkus Reviews


Marie Mutsuki Mockett talks to Authorlink about her writing journey, how she wrote the novel, THE TREE DOCTOR, straight through, the ease of writing the sex scenes, and how she found her agent and publisher. She also encourages writers trying to break into publishing to write with urgency, for what is done with a sense of urgency is more likely to find an audience.

“An affecting story of personal transformation, as broody as it is erotic.”

– Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review

“[a] fertile tale of sex and gardening … Mockett’s loamy language describing her characters’ erotic liaisons is often quite moving … This portrayal of a woman’s emotional courage and restoration makes the lockdown worth revisiting…” – Publishers Weekly

“Elegiac, profound and intensely human, it’s a story anyone exploring their self and their relationship to the world will appreciate.” – Authorlink

“Experiencing intense sexual passion for the first time in her life, [the narrator] discovers erotic pleasure as a vista still accessible to her in middle-age.” – Columbia Journal of Literary Criticism

When the unnamed narrator of Marie Mutsuki Mockett’s stirring second novel, THE TREE DOCTOR (Graywolf, March 19, 2024, Paperback Original, eBook) returns to Carmel, California, to care for her mother, she finds herself stranded at the outset of the disease. With her husband and children back in Hong Kong, and her Japanese mother steadily declining in a care facility two hours away, she becomes preoccupied with her mother’s garden―convinced it contains a kind of visual puzzle―and the dormant cherry tree within it.

Caught between tending to an unwell parent and the weight of obligation to her distant daughters and husband, she becomes isolated and unmoored. She soon starts a torrid affair with an arborist who is equally fascinated by her mother’s garden, and together they embark on reviving it. Increasingly engrossed by the garden, and by the awakening of her own body, she comes to see her mother’s illness as part of a natural order in which things are perpetually living and dying, consuming and being consumed.

All the while, she struggles to teach (remotely) Lady Murasaki’s eleventh-century novel, The Tale of Genji, which turns out to resonate eerily with the conditions of contemporary society in the grip of a pandemic.

The Tree Doctor is a powerful, beautifully written novel full of bodily pleasure, intense observation of nature, and a profound reckoning with the passage of time both within ourselves and in the world we inhabit.

Marie Mutsuki Mockett, author of The Tree DocctorAbout the Author: Marie Mutsuki Mockett was born to an American father and Japanese mother. American Harvest: God, Country and Farming in the Heartland (Graywolf) won both the 2021 Northern California Book Award and the Nebraska Book Award, and is a tribute to the complicated and nuanced history of the United States and its people. Her memoir, Where the Dead Pause, and the Japanese Say Goodbye, was a finalist for the 2016 PEN Open Book Award. She lives in San Francisco and teaches at the Bennington Writing Seminars. She is currently a Fulbright Fellow to Japan for 2022-2023.

THE TREE DOCTOR by Marie Mutsuki Mockett


Paperback Original | March 19, 2024 | 978-1644452776

Additional Praise for THE TREE DOCTOR

“Marie Mutsuki Mockett’s luminous new novel provides the hope and beauty we need after the isolation and disillusionment of the pandemic. If existential despair can kill, as the narrator thinks at one point, THE TREE DOCTOR is about the opposite: how reconnecting with the world around you–and with your own soul–will help you survive. This coming-of-middle-age-novel–a rarely dramatized but radically important stage in women’s lives–will leave me thinking for a long time.” – Celeste Ng

“This finely-calibrated, groundbreaking chronicle of one woman’s midlife awakening captivated me from the very first sentence.  With deadpan humor and deep compassion, Marie Mutsuki Mockett perfectly captures the fast, political, and cultural changes wrought by the pandemic, spinning them into a gorgeous, utterly original novel. I loved it.” —Joanna Rakoff

“THE TREE DOCTOR is a remarkable novel: sexy and profound, cerebral, and corporeal.

Never  before have I been so turned on by trees and flowers, or laughed so much about the

mysteries of sex and sexual desire. Marie Mutsuki Mockett depicts grief and self-discovery with such beauty and restrained vulnerability.  I loved being in the singular world of this book”

—Edan Lepucki

“Marie Mutsuki Mockett’s mesmerizing novel The Tree Doctor understands the drama inherent in having a garden. There is an unrecognized wonder to caring for plants: the genuine pleasure derived from planting new flowers, the amount of effort it takes to keep trees healthy and alive. Mockett’s unnamed protagonist herself is much like a flower in bloom. THE TREE DOCTOR explores one woman’s sexuality at a time of life rarely written about, during a time in history that we are only now beginning to process.

A beautiful and evocative, necessary book.” —Marcy Dermansky

“This is a gorgeous and completely unique novel, bristling with life like the garden it describes. It is melancholy, erotic, hopeful, meditative, frightening, and even funny—a book about solitude that is never lonely, a book that is both timeless and utterly contemporary. I finished it grateful to Marie Mutsuki Mockett for this orgy of sensory pleasures, and this opportunity to pause and consider life in a time of collective fear and uncertainty. A balm to the spirit and a lovely work of art.” —Lydia Kiesling

“Like the best of literature, THE TREE DOCTOR allows us to see ourselves, but reading this beautifully honed story is also an act of healing. Every page brought new color, feeling, and wisdom into my life, changing me, not unlike the narrator’s mended cherry tree with its surprising spring blooms. Marie Mutsuki Mockett is an exquisite writer.”—Alan Heathcock

“THE TREE DOCTOR is unlike anything I have ever read…. A California book, a pandemic novel, a cautionary tale, a romance, this is a novel to highlight and underline, to get lost in, to dream of, to share, to study, to surrender to.”—Porochista Khakpour,

 “Sex, death, rebirth and literature – it’s all here, in one astonishing book. THE TREE DOCTOR made me want to go have an affair!” —Gish Jen