The Tree Doctor

Coming March, 2024 from Graywolf Press

Marie Mutsuki Mockett’s first novel since her 2009 debut, Picking Bones from Ash, about a professor who returns to Carmel, California from Hong Kong to care for her ailing mother during the onset of “the disease” and starts a passionate affair with an arborist who shares her fascination with her mother’s puzzling garden, refracted through her struggle to teach (remotely) Lady Murasaki’s Tale of Genji, while balancing care for others and care for herself.

“Sex. Death. Rebirth. It’s all here in one astonishing book.” ―Gish Jen

“Marie Mutsuki Mockett’s luminous new novel provides the hope and beauty we need after the isolation and disillusionment of the pandemic…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

“Mesmerizing . . . . 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 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 vast social, political, and cultural changes wrought by the pandemic, spinning them into a gorgeous, utterly original novel. I loved it.”―Joanna Rakoff

“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 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

“What I love about Marie Mutsuki Mockett’s work is every book has its own unique concern, landscape, texture, mood. The Tree Doctor is unlike anything I have read. In it Mockett tells many stories at once: how the most luscious flora coexist among the mundane and often impossible concerns of suburbia and cities; how reckonings operate when you are mother and daughter and wife and lover; how illness makes its way from the personal to the universal and back again—and more! A California book, a pandemic novel, a cautionary tale, a romance in which descriptions of plants brush up against scenes of global catastrophe and  build into thrilling sequences of forbidden love. This is a novel to highlight and underline, to get lost in, to dream of, to share, to study, to surrender to.”―Porochista Khakpour

“…how liberating the decision to dismantle and reassemble one’s self…” STARRED Review in Kirkus Reviews

“…an affecting story of personal transformation, as broody as it is erotic…” Kirkus Reviews The Most Anticipated Books of 2024

An Indie Next Pick for April, 2024

“Mockett has written a ravishing and astute tale of solitude and family bonds, distance and intimacy, disruption and healing.” – Booklist

“[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

“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

“…sensual and profound…” OprahDaily The Most Anticipated Books of 2024

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

“In her brilliant second novel, Mockett delicately combines how we approach time and mortality” – LA Times, Most Anticipated for March

“Mockett has written a beautiful story about the passage of time and our connection with nature.” – Alta 

“Mutsuki Mockett expertly connects the astonishing awakenings within both the garden and the protagonist, exploring in brooding and lyrical prose how life flourishes within even the most hostile environments.” – Bustle, Spring Most Anticipated

“Life, death, romance and nature collide” SF Chronicle, Most Anticipated for March

“Well-written with glorious descriptions, The Tree Doctor is a highly recommended tour de force.” – NY Journal of Books

“[Mockett’s] prose is as lush as the garden in the woman’s Carmel home, as Mockett weaves together discussions of flora, dissections of passages from “Genji” and the woman’s memories of childhood trips to Japan with her mother.” – May-lee Chai, Star Tribune

“Mockett’s book is a thoughtful exploration of life and death and all the cycles in between, as well as finding one’s place in the world.” – The Seattle Times, Spring Roundup

“[an] urgent, powerful new novel…Mockett’s writing is a steady marvel of intensity: spiky, smart, curious, ripe with penetrating insights and frank bewilderment about everything from hot flashes, guilt, sex, money, marriage and family, aging and death – to the pandemic itself…Mockett has created a palpable, vibrant and wonderfully realized world.” – San Francisco Chronicle 

“Mockett’s prose is beautiful, and she handles the book’s heavy themes of illness and isolation perfectly, occasionally leavening them with humor.… This is a wonderful novel, wise and sensitive, and a stunning reflection on how we reinvent ourselves when we’re left with no other choice.” – Michael Schaub,

“Mockett’s writing is exquisite, but this novel seduces with its honesty about our physical lives—the flaws, the fears, the joys, and the needs. She’s unafraid to make a reader laugh and unafraid to face the kind, messy, beautiful conclusions that will linger with you for quite a long time.” – Oprah Daily

Cover image by the amazing Cory Feder