Skip to main navigation Skip to main content

Graywolf Press is proud to announce a series of events throughout 2024 celebrating fifty years of adventurous publishing, featuring debut and longstanding authors and taking place in New York City, Minneapolis, San Francisco, Chicago, and Tucson. More here

Book Title

The Tree Doctor

A Novel
Author 1
Marie Mutsuki Mockett
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, 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.

Share Title

List Price
Publication Date
Publication Date
Trim Size
Trim Size
5.5 x 8.25
A startling, erotic novel about struggling for life when joy is shadowed by despair and disease

About the Author

Marie Mutsuki Mockett
Credit: Alfie Goodrich
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.
More by author

Upcoming Events

Marie Mutsuki Mockett (THE TREE DOCTOR) appearing at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books

Los Angeles Times Festival of Books at USC in Los Angeles, CAview map
"Fiction: Women (and Men) on the Edge." With Elizabeth McKenzie, Sarah Tomlinson, and J. Ryan Stradal. Moderated by Elizabeth Crane. Location: Seeley G. Mudd 123. Tickets required. Click here for more details and to purchase tickets


  • “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 a steady marvel of intensity: spiky, smart, curious; ripe with penetrating insights and frank bewilderment. . . . Mockett has created a palpable, vibrant, wonderfully realized world.”—Joan Frank, San Francisco Chronicle
  • “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, “Best New Novels of Spring 2024”
  • “In her brilliant second novel, Mockett delicately combines how we approach time and mortality.”—Bethanne Patrick, Los Angeles Times
Back to Table of Contents