A startling, erotic novel about the need to balance care for others with care for one’s self.
When the unnamed narrator of Marie Mutsuki Mockett’s stirring second novel 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,

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  • Graywolf Press
  • Paperback
  • March 2024
  • 256 Pages
  • 9781644452776

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About Marie Mutsuki Mockett

Marie Mutsuki Mockett is the author of a previous novel, Picking Bones from Ash, and two books of nonfiction, American Harvest, which won the Nebraska Book Award, and Where the Dead Pause, and the Japanese Say Goodbye, which was a finalist for the PEN Open Book Award.


“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 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

“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

“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

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